Marian P. Merritt - Lagniappe

Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains

Monday, November 21, 2016

Fay Lamb - Everybody's Broken

Good Monday Morning Readers!

Fay Lamb 
visits Lagniappe to discuss her latest release, 
Everybody's Broken,
book 3 in the 
Amazing Grace Series.

Welcome, Fay!

Tell us a little about Everybody’s Broken.

The walls have ears … and voices. Voices that threaten …

Abra Carmichael's husband, Beau, has been murdered. She begins to realize that the man she loved was never who he seemed. Beau's secrets endanger Abra, their twin sons, and everyone who loved him. When Abra's life and the lives of their boys are threatened, she flees to Amazing Grace, North Carolina, and to Beau's family--people she never knew existed until the day of Beau's funeral.

For six years Shane Browne, an award-winning songwriter had both wished for and dreaded the return of his cousin. Beau's departure from their small hometown left behind his family and his inheritance, a grand Victorian with its legend of secret passages, which lay empty. Empty until Abra moves to Amazing Grace, into the house Beau willed to her only weeks before his death. Shane finds himself deeply drawn to Abra and her sons, desiring a future with them and his daughter. But the danger follows Abra to the peacefulness of the North Carolina mountains.

Abra and Shane are both threatened, and Abra claims to hear noises deep within the walls of the old home. Shane will do everything possible to keep Abra and her boys safe, even if that means revealing secrets of his own that will completely shatter Abra's already broken heart and destroy his relationship with everyone he loves.

Most treasured possession? 
A portrait of my grandmother when she was a small little girl with the most beautiful white hair.
Celeb you enjoy watching the most? 
Hands down, Andrew Lee Potts. And now everyone asks, “Who?”
Celeb who annoys you the most? 
Every host of The View.
Favorite Movie? 
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. All writers should watch this movie to see how the elements of story are drawn together.
What would be your theme song? (“If I Only Had a Brain”)


More important: Plot or Characters? Characters with great plots surrounding them.
Y’all or You Guys? Y’all
Grits or Hash Brown Potatoes? Grits
Plotter, Pantser, or Planser? Extreme Panster

Sweet Tea or Unsweetened Tea? Sweet Tea, more specifically from our local Moonlight Drive-In.

What were some of the challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) you faced in bringing this story to life?
The characters in Everybody’s Broken were like naughty children. I spent most of my time trying to corral them. They kept doing things that had me scratching my head, and they were doing them behind my back. I had no idea what was going on, who was doing what. Everything they did pointed toward a villain, and at one point that villain stepped to the edge of the stage of my imagination and bellowed, “I’m not that stupid. That’s not me doing those things. What? Do you think I’m going to announce, ‘Hey, I’m the bad guy’?” After a terse discussion in which I admitted I wondered if he was dumber than I actually thought he was, I had to agree with him. I didn’t like him being right because he was blowing my plot to smithereens.
That’s when, one by one, the other characters who knew what was going on approached. “Psst … I did that. Here’s why.” Then another one would say, “Yeah, sorry. That was me, but here’s what I want you to do with it.” Then one stepped up and said, “Oh, by the way, the idiot over there. He’s not the only villain in the story. You have another one.”
At that point, I began to tear out my hair. You see, I really am pretty much a seat-of-the-pants writer, and no matter what we claim, we’re not being honest with ourselves or with our readers if we try to pretend that this mode of operation isn’t the hardest way to write a story. But often the hardest way to do something turns out to be the most rewarding.
In the end, the twists and turns were complex, and when you live in your storyland for as long as I had with this one (three years), you can’t tell if everything makes sense to the reader. Obviously, and hopefully, by the end of the story, the writer knows what’s going on, but we always wonder if we covered all the bases with our plots and our twists. Does it smoothly connect the reader from one point to another.
I had several wonderful beta readers, but one was specifically asked to pick apart my plot. Kristen Hoegrefe did a great job, and after a lot of hair pulling and at least five personal reads by me, my beta readers’ advice, and the advice of my publisher, I was never so glad to let a story go, and although I was afraid that the second villain was too obvious, I am glad to report that my readers are telling me they didn’t catch on to him despite the hints I left throughout the story. Thank You, Lord!

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 have to answer this one because it requires some honesty from me. I do like to read my reviews. I could never claim that a bad review doesn’t bother me, but I recently received a 5-star review for Everybody’s Broken that at first hurt me to the core. She mentioned typos. I was undone, not by the reviewer but because of my nature. I work so hard to hand my editor the best product I can, and as my long-winded answer above shows, I worked really hard on editing this one. So did my beta readers and my editor. I hurt so badly because I felt I let my readers down. I have an excellent publisher, and I went diva on her and with grace and mercy she began to review the story again, knowing I was almost catatonic in despair, and she has corrected the errors.
Now for the rest of the story: That devastating 5-star review was a blessing in disguise. As I pondered ending my career over typos, the Lord gently showed me that I had come undone. Not because of a few typographical errors in a book that has otherwise been perceived by readers as “excellent,” including the reviewer who mentioned the errors. No, God had been calling me to stop and to breathe for a long time. You see, even with the added burden of a loved one with Alzheimer’s whose condition has worsened daily, I continued to plug along every day trying to make life flow normally for everyone around me. But keeping life normal for everyone else my life had daily become a four-stage Groundhog Day: I woke up. I got what I could do done before the inevitable mishap of the day; I handled the inevitable mishap—some easier than others, and then I went to bed honestly hoping I wouldn’t wake up the next day to the same thing. But I always did. My OCD makes me a consistent person. Dealing with Alzheimer’s takes the consistency in your life away from you. There is no set time to write or to edit or to clean house. I was already on shaky ground, and I wasn’t willing to drop anything in my overloaded hands because I thought I was helping people, or I had to keep the balls in the air … That review taught me that I needed to let go of things in my life that were stealing my joy. I’m glad God didn’t tell me writing was one of those things I needed to give up. And just so the person who wrote that review knows, I love her tremendously. She helped me greatly.
So, my thought on reviews, bad or otherwise, is this: I love to see a good review, but I’m a woman. Catch me on a good day with a bad review, and I can laugh it off; catch me on a terrible day, and I’ll beat myself up over it. The advice I have given other writers, though, is that if you are consistently getting bad reviews from good sources, perhaps you need to take heed in much the same way you need to listen to your editor or your critique partners. If you have great reviews from good resources and a few bad reviews pop up, don’t think evil thoughts about the persons who gave you the bad reviews. Here’s what I realized. A lot of 5-star reviews make readers believe they are canned reviews. They don’t hold much weight. We love ‘em, yes, but readers sometimes think we’re pulling a trick on them even if we aren’t. I never ask for a review even though I love to get them because I want the readers to like the story so much that they want to give me a review. If some bad reviews get thrown into the mix, this isn’t the end of the world. What it has done is create a curiosity factor for a potential reader. “Hmm … this reader says they couldn’t put it down. This one gave it a less than glowing remarks. I’d like to find out what I think of it.”

What is the most awkward situation you've ever put your character(s) into?
I happen to love humorous situations. I don’t write them on purpose. They always seem to come up when the characters are facing devastation or danger. Everybody’s Broken has several such moments from one character learning something that makes her cough her coffee all over another character, to a “screaming” situation and a comment about eight-legged creatures, to a usually suave attorney dressed in a chicken suit that somehow reminded me and the heroine of the story how much God loves us—without one word being sermonized.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
As I indicated, I have never asked a reader to give me a review. I’m always delighted to receive them. A review is like a “thank you.” A short, I enjoyed the story can mean so much to a writer, but readers may not know this. The best promotion for a book doesn’t come from a publisher (so little of that happens these days anyway). A review is a great promotion, but word of mouth, telling someone, “I just read this awesome story, and you should buy it and read it. You’ll love it, too …” If those words are honest and from the heart, there is no amount of promotional dollars that can top a heart-felt, “You need to read this one …” And let others purchase the book. Readers often forget that writers, though they love what they do, deserve to be paid for a well-written product. While I am always open to donating books to church libraries, and I have given books away to readers I know simply couldn’t afford the price of a book, sales are the one thing that show a writer’s value in this market, and making this come full circle, those sales are gotten mostly by a hearty recommendation.

Can you give us a brief summary of your writing process from idea to holding a published book or a download onto your eReader.
My imagination is a very populated place. Many characters live there. While the characters do intermingle because they are personable, they have their own stories. Right now, I have contracts. Everybody’s Broken was not supposed to be my newest release, but the characters would not leave me alone. So, I do allow the characters to direct me. I have to work on the contract work first, but the other characters in the myriad of other tales try to interfere all the time.
To answer the question, though, I sit down at my computer and I pour the story out. The story has been in my head for a long while. In fact, several stories at a time might vie for my attention. I let my brain tell my fingers where to go. That type of writing does get me in trouble, as noted with the complexity of Everybody’s Broken but it makes my writing life exciting for me. I will stop and read preceding chapters once in a while, and I will realize, “Oh, this happened in chapter four, I need to layer something about it here in chapter two. As I write, I layer. Then when the story is complete, I spend a lot of time rereading and continuing to layer to bring in the surprises. Sometimes it’s as simple as learning the connection two characters might share. In Everybody’s Broken, I brought out one relationship that I hope surprises the reader. I also like to layer for readers of the entire series things that will have them saying, “Ah-ha” when they read while readers who haven’t read the entire series will not miss the “ah-ha” moment at all, but if they read another story, they will pick it up. All of the stories in the Amazing Grace series center on the town and seasons of the town. Only one character has a reoccurring role in each of the stories. Those who read the series will have several “ah-ha” moments, especially as they come to the last story in the series that tells the reoccurring character’s story through the life of someone he loves more than life.
Writing for me would not be worth the challenge if I could not surprise myself each day that I write.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m currently working on my next novel in The Ties that Bind series, which is romance without the suspense. The next title is Hope. Hope was the antagonist of the last story in the series, which was entitled, Libby. After Hope’s story is told, I get to write the story of one of my favorite characters in that series, Judge Delilah. I’ve also almost completed the last story in the Amazing Grace series, entitled Frozen Notes. After those are completed, I have several stories in various stages of draft and revision that I look forward to writing.

Fay's question for readers: 
What is the one technique an author might use that drives you crazy?

Fay Lamb is an editor and author, whose emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. With the release of Everybody’s Broken, three of the four books in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, which also includes Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on two Christmas novella projects: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, and A Ruby Christmas, and the Write Integrity Press romance novella series, which includes A Dozen Apologies, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay are: Frozen Notes, Book 4 of the Amazing Grace series and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind series.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.

Fay, thanks for sharing!

Readers thanks for stopping by Lagniappe.

I pray you find
"a little something extra"
in each of your days.



Hope Welborn said...

Hi, Fay! Great interview and insights into your life and writing. I think it's hilarious that a person as OCD and ordered as you are can write without an outline. Not what I expected. But, whatever you're doing, it's working, so keep it up! :) Can't wait to read your latest!

Hope Welborn

Fay Lamb said...

Marian: Thank you for the interview.

Fay Lamb said...

Hope: Thank you, and LOL. I never thought of the panster being a completely opposite characteristic of OCD. I think the OCD comes into play in my avoidance of outlines. Even the thought of an outline makes me break out in a sweat, so I spend a lot of time re-reading and layering. And the surprises from panster writing are so fun to discover.

Marian Pellegrin Merritt said...

Fay, thanks for stopping by and sharing with us!!! It's always a pleasure to have you!