Today we have author Lila Shaw visiting. Lila's stories typically involve strong-willed women, and are often playful, sarcastic and even silly. She believes if you can’t occasionally laugh at the physical aspects of love, you’re taking life far too seriously. Lila, who also writes under the name Claire Gillian, lives in the Pacific NW with her family and works full time as a CFO/COO.
So, Lila, what inspired you to become a writer?
I started with fan fiction because I wanted to put favorite characters in situations and settings of my own creation. It was escapism and Mary Sue’ism through and through. I quickly found that creating my own characters with their own looks, mannerisms and behaviors was much more fun and probably a little healthier for my mental wellbeing. LOL.
When did you attempt your first story? I started it 2008, a contemporary romance novel about an older widow and the actor she reluctantly falls for. It was called The Fool’s Bet and was a very foolish bit of tripe indeed. What length was it? I don’t remember exactly but I think it was around 85,000 words. What's become of it? It’s locked away in my writer’s trunk with the scathing final beta reader’s comments of “I want to burn this manuscript and stomp on its ashes” forever memorialized. That beta reader was absolutely correct in telling me what she did. The plot and characters were melodramatic stereotypes, both childish and horrific. Still…there are a few bits that I might be able to salvage…one day…but not terribly likely.
How many stories did you complete before you sold your first?
I wrote nearly two hundred short stories before I sold one to an anthology. I did a flash fiction challenge exercise every Sunday night for nearly two years over at the Absolute Write forum for writers. Many of those stories later became fodder for longer stories. As far as novels go, I’ve written six novels / novellas in their entireties. I just published as my debut, novel #2, in April (The P.U.R.E. by Claire Gillian) and All’s Fair in Love and War by Lila Shaw is my second published novel and the third one I wrote. Novels 4 and 5 are still being spit-shined. Novel #6 is currently out on submission as is a collection of short stories. I have short stories that will be published in two forthcoming anthologies releasing in a few weeks.
What genre(s) do you write in? All of them! I can’t decide! My short stories cover everything from horror to steampunk to historical romance to suspense/thrillers. My novels thus far have all had heavy romantic elements and usually humor too. I write for three audiences—over 18 erotica/erotic romance as Lila Shaw; romantic mystery, paranormal romance and urban fantasy as Claire Gillian; and I have a third pen name I use for my young adult writing (one completed novel for her and one in process). What drew you to write in it/them? I just like to write about interesting characters with fun dialogue, leaning more toward character-driven stories. I have very eclectic reading tastes and what I’ve read most recently tends to influence what style I lean toward in my own writings from week to week. What’s your favorite genre of all to write in? Romance of course! For any and all ages, any and all heat levels.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?
Best piece of writing advice was “Tell / show the reader what she needs to know when she needs to know it NOT what you want her to know. There’s a big difference.” Worse piece of advice was to follow all the traditional writing and publishing “rules”.
How do you celebrate/deal with acceptance/rejection letters?
I save them all but never re-read the rejections. After a rejection, I’ll typically sink into the quagmire of “I’m nothing but a hack” for a while, not too long, then pull myself back out and try again. For successes…well, that’s why there’s Twitter and Facebook and long suffering friends who will pat you on the back, retweet you or at least give you a “like”, bless their hearts. LOL
In regard to the book you’re promoting, which actor and actress do you envision playing the roles of your hero and heroine? For Colin, I’d like a cross between Matt Bomer (those eyes!) and Henry Cavill (that chin and that bod!). For Shelby, I’d pick Zooey Deschanel. If there’s a villain or other characters who are pertinent to the story, who would play those parts? No real villain, but Shelby’s brother, Will, and Colin’s little sister, Meghan, are also key players. I’ve not thought about them as much but off the top of my head, I’d go with Chris Evans and Deborah Ann Woll
The book you’re promoting, is it a stand-alone story or part of a series? If it’s part of a series, please list the order the books need to be read in for maximum reading enjoyment.
It's a stand alone story. I wanted to write a battle of the sexes romance in a workplace setting with lots of humor so it would be easy to return to day after day during NaNoWriMo 2009 that I wrote it for. I made both the hero and heroine CPA’s because I’m a CPA, though I no longer practice. I’m determined to make CPAs sexy!
*** Now for some fun info… ***
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar
Would you/have you own(ed) a snake or some other exotic pet?
I had a mynah bird as kid. It was meaner than a snake and could talk.
Are you a morning person or night owl?
Hands down, a morning person and always have been.
*** About Lila’s book… ***
All’s Fair in Love and War, released May 11th from Evernight Publishing
Tagline: “All’s fair in love and war—wage it wisely.”
Only two obstacles block Shelby Donaldson’s path to success at her new job–her sizzling hot supervisor and his freezing cold attitude. Maybe her flirting got a little out of hand at first, but that’s no reason for Mr. Sighs-A-Lot to screw her over in her performance review.
Colin Montoya is not going to fall for Shelby’s sex-in-a-suit brand of temptation. He’s got her number and is not going to dial it, nor is he going to allow Shelby’s philandering brother to marry his baby sister.
After an explosive one-night stand goes awry, battle lines are drawn. But can the warring co-workers negotiate a cease-fire long enough to realize their romantic fortunes might just lie in each other?
Colin watched Shelby leave, baffled as usual by her flighty behavior. She was the most frustrating woman he had ever met, in more ways than one. Having to work with her for three weeks had stretched his tolerance to the limit. He was grateful to finally be rid of her, the signed performance review in his hot little hands. If only his body felt the same way about her as his head.
He rose from his chair and followed her out. He checked his watch. Nearly five-thirty. Since it was also a Friday, happy hour at the usual location awaited. Good thing, too, because he always felt like a stiff drink after an exchange with Shelby Donaldson.
Shelby sashayed around the corner to her cubicle. Colin couldn’t help but track her hips as they swayed. Exasperated with his unbidden reaction, he made a hard right into his own cubicle and collapsed into his chair. After lingering over a few last minute client details, he organized and stowed his work, then headed out.
At Roscoe's Sports Bar and Grill in the heart of downtown Portland, Oregon, Colin zeroed in on the tiny table a couple of his buddies had staked out near the foosball tables. Pulling up a bar stool, he ordered a beer then dove into the order of nachos that claimed nearly the entire surface of the table. He and his friends caught up with each other, and he shared the reason for his tardiness.
"Isn’t that her over there?" His friend and colleague Allan pointed to a table of giggly women near the bar.
Colin turned and saw several women from his firm, including Shelby.
"Yeah." He spun back around, hoping she hadn’t spotted him.
"Which one is she?" his other friend, Christian, asked.
"She’s the one in the red sweater with long dark hair parted on the side, big hoop earrings with these stupid cats hanging from the bottom, sinister blood red talons for fingernails. You can't miss her if you look for the pall of obstinacy that surrounds her, sort of like Pigpen from Peanuts with his cloud of dirt."
"The one with the nice rack?"
"I hadn’t noticed." Colin feigned disinterest, struggling to keep all inflection from his voice.
“I guess you were too preoccupied with her pus – kitties.” Allen slapped him on the back, and both friends guffawed.
If Colin were being honest, he’d have to admit that not much about Shelby escaped his attention – hazel eyes that danced with amusement at the oddest things, a laugh that contrasted sharply with her delicate features in its bawdiness. And yes, she had a nice rack, as well as nice legs and a tight little body she obviously pampered. Every square inch of her was designed to distract and lure a man to his doom. Even her infectious laughter, which cut through the din of the bar, got to him. It always had, but that lethal package was marred by a personality made of piss and vinegar when she didn't get her way. Given the inappropriateness of dating a co-worker, especially a subordinate, he was almost grateful for the fatal flaw.
Colin escaped to the bathrooms to shut out the mirthful sounds. On his return, he met Shelby in the narrow hallway. They did the obstacle dance with each other before he stopped and stood to one side. As she nodded then passed, he got a whiff of her perfume, the same scent she wore every day. Over his shoulder, he watched her walk away before he continued back to his table, shaking his head. He absolutely hated how she turned him upside down.
All Romance e-books
All’s Fair was written for my very first year doing NaNoWriMo, in 2009. I planned out my plot ahead of time, started at midnight plus one second on November 1st and finished on November 19th, the day after my birthday. I would have finished around November 14th but I ran out of plot at 35,000 words, hence the creation of the dream sequences that punctuate the book. I always intended to pull those out later, but I sort of fell in love with them. Writer’s Darlings or not, they’ve survived into the final product.
***Find Lila here***
Thank you for joining us here today, Lila! It was a pleasure getting to know you and your work.
GIVEAWAY! All’s Fair in Love and War, ebook in format of winner’s choice from available Evernight formats, running from 5/18 to 5/23, winner selected and notified 5/24. Winner to be randomly selected from commenter who answers question: “What’s your favorite type of male hero in a romance novel?” We’ll leave it up to them to determine how to answer, whether based on appearance or behavior or other.