Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Author Spotlight: A.K. Lawrence




About the Author

A.K. grew up in a small town in Michigan, graduating in '94. She traveled the country thereafter, constantly trying new statesnew jobs, and meeting new people. She thought she was living life but really she was researching for when she would start writing novels, something she's wanted to do since the age of 13 when she told herself she would travel the world, write books and drop home for random visits bearing cool gifts.


She's not much of a fitness freak but does enjoy making use of a treadmill when the words or ideas just don't want to come. She sets it at a fast pace, blares the music and starts dancing. It took much practice but she's able to move her upper body completely out of sync with the lower and not look like a spasmodic twig on the machine. It's fun?


A.K. ran a blog named Three O'Clock Java as everyday she needed to stop for a breather, regardless of what she was working on. It turned into a great time to take stock, share any words that weren't meant for a manuscript and, in general, create purposeful goof off time. That blog has since been changed to www.aklawrence.com.



Much of A.K.'s time is spent with Her Companion and their two pets. They have an adorable, energetic 2 year old kitten (always a kitten) named Shirin which means "sweet" in Farsi. They also have a rescued Dappled Dachshund named Cocoa. He has officially learned to fetch socks, underwear, and cardboard, which took a lot of hard work and patience.

About the Book

At Wit's End was re-released by Booktrope Publishing on February 11, 2016. 

 For a limited time you can grab a copy for ONLY $0.99! Sale ends March 1st, 2016!


A Release Party is scheduled for February 29th, 2016 from 5-10pm EST, with a LIVE stream with A.K. Lawrence from 5-6pm EST. Join the party here, and invite your friends!



When adversity strikes, will you run, hide . . . or fight back?

When an explosion shatters the life of golden boy Bradley ‘Wit’ Witson, he buries himself in his secret identity as Zero, a hacker respected by the denizens of the Dark Net. Grief numbs him to everything but his new purpose: vengeance.

Theft and betrayal threaten the future of Marie Chase’s fledgling event-planning company, C U There. With no where else to turn, Marie seeks help from the Dark Net. Heartbroken and angry, Marie is determined to thrive.

Could Wit could be the solution to Marie’s problem?

Could Marie be the antidote to Wit’s misery?

As Wit and Marie bond over good food and bad interior design, Wit’s past threatens to ruin everything. His insistence on justice puts the young couple in the crosshairs of a shadowy organization.


Author Interview

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

I may have to try the standing on my head thing. A change of perspective can never hurt! I don't consider them habits because those are something you can break and go on living, but I do have a couple of rituals. Superstitious nonsense, but they're designed specifically for writing.

The first is that I must have a cup of coffee next to me, even if I don't plan on drinking it. The aroma stirs creative juices for me. I finally bought a mug warmer so I didn't have to keep nuking the java for sensory purposes (because even if I'm not drinking it, cold coffee is disgusting). The trips to the microwave were causing havoc with my mental paces. I have mugs that I use at specific times. When I have a block, I use my "de-CAT-feinated" purple mug. When things are flowing, I'll use a Denver Broncos cup. Like that. My coffee addiction is so strong, I initially named my blog Three O'Clock Java. It has since been changed to my homepage, aklawrence.com.

The second ritual includes three specific songs. I don't have to listen to them in a particular order, but I do have to hear all three. They're all by Dave Matthews Band - which probably tells people quite a bit about me - and I prefer the live versions. I had to buy three different live albums to get them, so now I have multiple versions to help suit my mood. I call them "My 3 G's of Writing". The songs are "Grace is Gone", "Gravedigger", and "Grey Street". There's something about the rhythms, the mood, the plaintiff wail of Dave ... when I hear them, my fingers start moving as if they're on a keyboard, even when there isn't one available. I've had that tic pointed out to me when we've been at the bar a few times.

Fun anecdote time: I have the TouchTunes app on my phone. This lets me connect to any jukebox on their network. There are days when I go to the local bar to write. I'll sit out in my car and set those songs to "Play Next", thus having an entrance. The bartenders are trained to look for me at the door when the songs come on randomly during the day.

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

At Wit's End brewed in the hopper for about a year. It started while I was talking to my brother, who is not tech savvy. I am, to an extent, or so My Consultant tells me. This means that I used to do all the repair work for my brother, mom, and everyone. When my brother bought a new laptop, he reminded me to put tape over the camera. This, of course, caused a few mental tangents about Internet Safety 101 tips, but I kept my mouth shut. He's older and bigger than me.

Shortly after that I moved to Florida. I am a person who likes to ask questions, and I met someone in the Internet Safety field right after I got there. I won't go into all of the details of his job because it would make the readers eyes glaze over, but short form is his job was to try to break into your bank accounts. That's what he did all day, every day. I've always been interested in coding and the like, but not enough to learn how. I have books I'd rather write, than code.

Target had just been hacked, along with several other major retailers.

I had recently finished writing a romance novel, and I was on the lookout for a new project. He answered my questions, and many more, and Brad "Wit" Witson - hacker handle Zero - was born. Wit talked to me for a solid 6 months before I wrote the first word.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

The hardest part was keeping my book's technology ahead of the actual curve. Every time I went to My Consultant with a hypothetical scenario about what the IGGY program could do, he would tell me there were already programs out there that did it. My thoughts had to become more outlandish, or so I thought. 

Some of the equipment I designed for Wit to have built didn't make the cut for this book. I wish it had, but I'm also worried about what these designs could, and probably will, be used for someday. 
The politics surrounding privacy on the Internet were also difficult to avoid. It took some fancy footwork. I won't go into all of the details, but I - and many others in the community - have been expecting the fight between Apple and the FBI for years. Frankly, I'm surprised it took this long. 

Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)

At Wit's End is my third book, though it's the first being re-released through a publisher. I self-published on Amazon, originally, but now all three books are receiving professional treatment.  I am grateful to Booktrope Publishing for the opportunity to bring my works to a larger audience. 

Extremity was my first. It's a mystery/thriller that I absolutely adore. I have characters I'm excited to flesh out, so to speak. Odd fact about this one: It has more buys and downloads outside of the U.S. than my other two books combined, and I have no idea why. This will be my third release through Booktrope, and you can begin looking for it early 2017. 

Freedom's Treasure was my second. It's a straight romance with a touch of danger and a treasure hunt. I wrote it on a dare for a contest. I didn't complete the manuscript in time to enter the competition, unfortunately. This has been quite popular in the States, however, and I'm excited to give it fresh breath. The re-release date for Freedom's Treasure is June 30, 2016.

 Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
 
My go to answer for this is Margaret Mitchell. I read Gone With the Wind when I was in seventh grade, for a book report. I became so wrapped up in that book, I ended up finishing it in a week. The best part is that I chose that book because I wanted a reason to use the word damn in a school report and not get detention. Yes, I totally got away with it. I also came away with a love of deep, sweeping romance. 

I pay homage to that novel in my other books. That novel and the NFL. No other author can claim to inspire me as much. 

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I do indeed read my reviews. When I first started out, I responded to one. The person had commented on some formatting errors, and I blithely hopped on to reply and say they'd been fixed. Five minutes later I realized how creepy that must have been for that reader. I no longer respond. 

When I think about bad reviews, I remind myself of one thing: All of my life, I have been told to write the books that I want to read. Though I'm sharing my books with the world, they aren't actually for the world. If someone really dislikes my book, that's okay and they're entitled to that as I didn't write it for them. I'm simply glad they gave it a shot. If it affected them so much they wanted to leave a good, bad, or indifferent review, that's great! I can always use feedback, but I can't guarantee I'll take it.

I'll admit here and now, I haven't had a bad review yet. That is not a dare, people! Just pointing that out to say I can't guarantee how I will react to someone tearing my baby apart.  

Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy? 

I have a difficult time in the beginning scenes, when I'm introducing my characters. I know them so well before I sit down to type a word, that I have to remind myself the reader does not. There's a delicate line between introducing your character and doing a data dump. 

The racier scenes are their own story. Everyone knows what the characters are doing. Everyone knows what it probably looks like, sounds like. If my word choices are too racy, or too modest, it kills the flow. Certain genres and demographics demand different language choices.
 
The best way I found to balance this is to consider my grandmother and my sister. Will it make only one of them blush, or both? If I use certain words, does one laugh or turn in disgust? 

Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

When a person's first instinct is to sell all of their stuff, throw the necessities into their car, and head for another state to live without knowing anyone or having a plan, well, they are going to have some stories to tell. I am that person, and have been for the past 21 years. 

One of my favorite "Oh God, I may not get out of this" moments comes from many moons ago. I was young, in love, and still believed I loved camping. There was a secluded island in Michigan that a group of 4 of us spent on a long weekend vacation. We had ten acres there, with no power or "real" buildings. When I say real, I mean the guys took the siding from a torn down pole barn and made lean-tos, so yeah, definitely not a place where a bear has to knock on the door to come in. 

There was a ferry that visitors to the island had to ride to get to the island. It was that or take a tiny plane that landed sideways, I kid you not. We had a 19 foot Crownline boat, with sleeping cabin, that we took over to the island so we could skip the ferry. We were very cocky about the whole thing. We should have known that Mother Nature wouldn't find us nearly as clever as we did.

The arrival and visit itself went great. We built an outhouse and named it after my female friend. We began filling a hollow tree with empty rum bottles - the gallon size, not the puny fifths. We made plans for a party that was to take place there a couple of months later. 

I should mention that the captain of our vessel was afraid of water. Not all lakes and things, but when he couldn't see land he tended to get... concerned. He was not someone who dealt with their "concerns" in a healthy manner. 

We loaded up the speedboat to go back to the mainland. It's a 32 non-nautical mile ride, so it takes some time. The ferry does it in 4 hours. When we went over to the island, we did it in 2 1/2 hours. Well, our trip home wasn't nearly as quick or calm. 

We didn't listen to the radio before we left, and the small bay we were docked in was as smooth as glass. It didn't stay that way. When we exited the bay and hit Lake Michigan proper, the waves came. And I don't mean, "Oh hey, this is fun, go hit that one and make a splash" waves. These were as high as 12 feet. Which was ridiculously dangerous in our little boat. 

Our captain, with fear etched across his features, decided we should gun it and try to skip over the waves. On dirt roads there are things we call chatter bumps. If people drive over them fast enough, it will rattle their car into little pieces. That's what happened to the boat. My female friend was laying in the back and she almost got launched out and into the cold water. The two dogs we had with us had to be tied off because the puppy almost went with her. We were leaving pieces of the boat behind us, including the "glove compartment" door. Mini-tangent, but does anyone know what they call those on boats, seeing as people don't generally need gloves on lake bound vessels? It's not the most accurate description. But anyway...

3 of the 4 of us grew up on a lake with boats. A smaller lake, but we still had, whereas our captain had not. I made eye contact with the male friend and we both lunged for the throttle at the same time. He put it in neutral, I gave our captain a dead-eye stare and told him to sit down, we've got this. Then the debate started. We were halfway between the mainland and the island. The waves and weather were getting worse in both directions. No argument ensued, it was a semi-calm discussion that ended with us heading to the mainland after all.

We honestly thought we were going to die. That it didn't matter which way we chose to go. We were going to end up on the local news when the Coast Guard would have to airlift us to safety. We would never have lived that down.

Since then I have admitted that I only like camping, not love it, and I prefer power outlets and a comfortable airbed.

Since then I have checked the weather before any journey, even if it's a half hour drive. 

What book do you wish you could have written?

I thought I was going to have a hard time answering this question but as soon as my fingers hit the keys, this title came to me.

Sailor Song by Ken Kesey. It's out there, I know. I haven't read it in a while, but it's a book that sticks with me. I like this one more than One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. It has more symbolism that appeals to me. Ken Kesey was masterful with language and ideas. Alice the Angry Aleut and the Bakatcha Bandit should be literal icons.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac is the only other book I wish I had written. I've been on the road for years now, though never with characters quite as entertaining. I was upset they made a movie out of it and I still haven't watched it.  

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

This is going to sound awful because I'm only in my 30s but every thing that I've wanted to do or accomplish has officially happened, and earlier in my life than I had anticipated. I hate when people "move the goal posts" so I haven't done that yet, but I know I will as soon I will have no choice. We all need goals! 

My Companion and I talk about wanting to live on a tropical island, but as I sit here typing these answers, I am sitting on a semi-tropical island that's all of 70 miles from my apartment. We come here, or to places that are similar, often. 

I wanted to have at least one of my books in libraries, and that's happened. Admittedly I donated the copies, but they're there, on actual shelves next to all sorts of other authors with Lawrence as a last name. I'm about to have author signings and I've been recognized on the street for being a writer and not a local somewhere.

I've always wanted to travel the United States and I've done a pretty good job of that. I've lived or driven through most of the states, though I have the East Coast yet to finish. And California. I haven't made it there yet, but I did drive along the border.

Oh! I've got an answer! I've always wanted to do a spoken word show. I've gone to open mic nights, and I've told stories and gotten the laughs, but one of my goals is to get paid to do it, even if it's only in a small club somewhere. 

I'm not talking about being a stand-up comedienne, I leave that to the class clowns. Henry Rollins inspired me. I was never a fan of his bands but I stumbled onto his Spoken Word albums and I fell in love with the art of it, the connection one can make with an audience. I'm hoping that book readings can help me turn this goal into reality.

Check back with me in about 8 months on this question. Many, many things can change in that time period. I probably won't be in lovely and warm Florida any longer, but a new, as yet unnamed state. Or country. We decided if certain people won the U.S. election for President, you'd find us on a tropical island somewhere while we wait for the fall-out. Politics used to be fun, now it's scary.

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Visit A.K. Lawrence's homepage to see find links for purchasing her book. If you're interested in buying a signed paperback, you can find that information here.

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