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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Author Interview with Lila Munro

Bound By TrustImage by stuartaken via Flickr
Lila Munro is a writer of contemporary romance currently residing on the coast of North Carolina. She is currently under contract for two novels with Wild Horse Press, and a third with Whiskey Creek Press. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading everything she can get her hands on, trips to the museum and aquarium, taking field research trips, and soaking up the sun on the nearby beaches. She loves to hear from her readers.

Tell us about your current title.

The Executive Officer’s Wife is set in Jacksonville, NC and rotates around the military community based there. The heroine, Libby Calhoun, is the daughter of a USMC sniper being held captive. Chase Wayland, the hero, is a former marine turned bodyguard who has been charged with her safety. The road to happily ever after is a bumpy one for them and is filled with twists, turns, and plenty of surprises. There’s also a host of colorful supporting characters that help them find their way.

What qualities do you need to be a successful writer?

I think in order for success to greet one, they must possess patience, persistence, discipline, and the ability to take criticism and use it as a learning tool.

How can people buy your books?

At present The Executive Officer’s Wife is available in ebook format through , , , and . This fall it should come available in paperback. Bound By Trust, due out in October, will be available at all the same outlets and will also be available at .

To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer?

In my mind being a good writer means having a good command of the written language. Grammar and spelling are extremely important. Yes, editors exist, and their purpose in life is to edit, however, an editor will never see your work if it doesn’t make it past the submissions desk due to shoddy grammar or poor spelling. Learn grammar—there’s a ton of resources available in libraries, book stores, and all over the web. Another option is to take a basic grammar class at community college. As far as spelling goes—there’s a terrific resource called the dictionary. I highly recommend its usage.

How much revision of your MS do you do before you send it off?

I am my own worst critic. First I revise as I write, then do a complete read through with more revisions. After that I leave it to soak a while, then more revising. Sometimes I have to make myself let it go. I owe it to myself to send off the best manuscript I possibly can.

Where and when is your novel set and why did you make the specific choices?

One piece of advice I try very hard to adhere to is to write what you know. Being married to the military, I know about marines. It only seemed natural that I would tap them for heroes. The setting is present day and the place is Jacksonville, NC, the home of the USMC east coast. I’ve lived in and around the area for many years, therefore I felt I could give my readers accurate descriptions and present a realistic experience to them.

How do you know where to begin any story?

That’s a tough one. I think it requires some degree of instinct. Sometimes I sit down and the story basically starts itself, other times it’s a real struggle to get the first few lines typed. One rule I try to adhere to is always begin at a point of conflict. It draws the reader in because they wonder what is this conflict, what caused it, and they need to know how it will be resolved.

Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?

I believe anyone can acquire the skills needed to be a writer. Anyone can learn the technical aspects—grammar, spelling, how to formulate a sentence. However, although they possess the skills necessary, that doesn’t make them a good writer. I believe there is a driving force that lives inside a writer. You can call it a natural gift, an inner voice, the muse, or an insatiable desire to make words say something, the fact is, it exists. On the other hand, it is also possible to possess this natural gift and not possess the necessary skills to make it work. Writers must, absolutely must, hone their craft by learning their craft. I cannot stress this enough.

What are you writing now?

I have tons of stuff simmering away on my literary stove top. My main focus right now is a series called The Sergeants of Lima Co. It’s about three marines who each find who they believe to be the girl to fulfill all their fantasies before they deploy again. The problem is these women not only come with more baggage than Coach, they worm their way into these boys’ hearts. I believe these books will live up to the standards and expectations my reader’s have, spicy, monogamous relationships with plenty of conflict and happily ever afters.

Do you have a website or blog that readers can visit?

I certainly do. I have my own personal website filled with useful goodies: my blog, excerpts, video trailers, and links to other great sites. I can be reached there at . In addition to that, I also participate in a joint effort website with three other great gals. We call ourselves the wicked muses and everyone can check that out at . I highly encourage everyone to become a member at Wicked Muses as we have some fabulous events and give aways planned for this fall and winter.

Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?

With unlimited resources I would buy an ocean front home on the outer banks of North Carolina and set my office up facing the water. I’m very drawn to the ocean. When I need to center and refocus that’s where I go.

Thanks so much for having me today. If it’s alright I’d like to share a sneak peek into The Executive Officer’s Wife.

“Hey, cowboy.”  With a smile as fresh at midnight as it had been at eight she quickly fixed a Jack straight up on the rocks and set in before him.  “I believe that’s right.”
“Yes, you remembered,” Chase spoke over the crowd and jukebox.  “Are you allowed to take a break?  Or will you get off soon?”
“Uncle Murray,” she shot the older man a grin, “Do you think you can spare me a while?”  What was she doing?
Murray’s eyes darted from her to Chase and back again.  He feigned a scowl and tried to act irritated.  “Just as soon as that tip jar is full.” 
“Well, cowboy, there you go, fill my jar and I’m free for the rest of the evening.”  How he would accomplish it was beyond her.
“Lady, you got yourself a deal.”
Confidently he strode to the karaoke stage, his ostrich skin cowboy boots clicking a cadence.  He picked up the microphone and flipped it on.  “Excuse me, gentlemen.  I realize I’m a newbie here, but it seems the lovely Miss Libby has thrown down the javelin and issued a challenge.”  He held his glass toward her, smiled that wicked grin, winked one of those enrapturing eyes and continued in that honeyed accent.  “I was just wondering if I could get you all to help me fill her tip jar so Uncle Murray will let her dance with me.”
Barks of approval raised the roof as marine after marine lined up at the bar and dropped bills in her jar until it could hold no more.  The last person in line was Chase, and he topped it off with another twenty.
“Okay, lady, how about that dance?”
She smiled and shook her head.  “Well, you did your part.”
Grinning, Murray busied himself with pouring a Jack straight up on the rocks topped with a wedge of lemon, while she vaulted herself backward upon the bar, spun around and slid provocatively down feeling his eyes touching her.  She extended her left arm upward just as Murray slid the tumbler in her hand.
Chase’s eyes smoldered.  “A Jack girl, my kind of woman.”
She knew she was playing with a powder keg, and, yet, she couldn’t help herself.  It had been five long years since so much as a fleeting spark had caught in her middle, and here she was fostering what could quickly become a raging forest fire.  Glass in her left hand, she extended her right and placed it on the offered arm.
“Shall we?”  He asked.
“Certainly,” she scrutinized his tawny face for a moment, “Strange man, from…Texas perhaps?”
“I have a name.”
“I don’t need to know it.”
Why the name game?  He didn’t care, this way things would be less complicated.  He just knew that the tightening he felt in his groin hadn’t subsided since he had first laid eyes on her. Not that it made a bit of sense.  He had been alone hunkered down in the field for weeks and months at a time and the thought of needing a woman never crossed his mind.  And now he was on impersonal assignments for lengthy periods of time and when the need did cross his mind he knew where to find comfort with no strings attached.  The women he sought certainly were not marriage material.  Marriage?  Where did that come from?  Three days on the road and too much humidity must have been playing with his ability to think clearly.
Chase was definitely not in the market for a wife, and was constantly turning down the endless string of women his father relentlessly pushed off on him. Repeated explanations as to why he could not--would not--marry fell on deaf ears.  It simply wouldn’t be fair to marry someone that would be neglected due to his line of work. That was what he told him anyway.  They both knew it wasn’t the truth, but an excuse so that he could push the real reason into the recesses of his subconscious.
“I obviously know your name.”
“Yes, well, Libby is not my given name, so we’re even.”
“And, what is your given name?”
“You don’t need to know.”
New to these parts, or not, he would eventually find out from someone anyway.  Then this fairy tale fantasy, where this man knew her as Libby and not as the Master Guns’ daughter, would subside because he, like everyone else, would start treating her like his sister.  But, does it matter what happens before then?

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