I had the pleasure of meeting Malena Lott when I was her “shepherd” at the November 2010 meeting of Ozarks Writers League, where she was the featured speaker. I’d started reading her book, Dating da Vinci and was intrigued by her story of the young, handsome present-day Leonardo da Vinci. From our first meeting at the airport, I knew Malena possessed the very spirit of da Vinci – la vita allegra – joyful living.
|Malena and Jan at the OWL Hillbilly Formal|
Malena is a renaissance woman, full of creativity and inspiration. The interview and links that follow will give you but a taste of how she shares those who are also on a path to la vita allegra.
MALENA: I wanted to be a part of a community of readers, but something that goes beyond goodreads and online sites. So Book End Babes is an effort to get women to get together at least six times a year in person and read whatever you like and talk about it. Just add to the conversation about books and stories and life. Reading makes people more empathetic and greater citizens, which is why the other slogan is “real babes read books.” The online portion is a blog made up of a dozen bloggers who talk about books-to-film, young adult reads, romance, women’s fiction and even food writing! A very fun mix to inspire women to read.
MALENA: I’ve often said writers are afflicted with OCD, which is both a blessing and a curse. It does keep us obsessed enough with the story to finish it and yet it can get carried away. You question yourself – is the dialogue strong enough? Is that a dumb name? It can get carried away. I have to stop myself from thinking about the book all the time. My redemption is, oddly enough, reading even one line that I love and just saying, “It is done.” If I know I did my best, that’s all I can do.
MALENA: I do think writers are a quirky lot. 🙂 For me, I can’t write the first draft without a title I love. Now that doesn’t mean the title won’t change. I have a women’s fiction book that I will probably epub next year that started as Loving Lancelot and then became Lost in the Spotlight and now will be Second Acts. I also can become obsessed with who I think would play the character in the movie version of the book, but I think that’s more about helping me with characterization than ego. (I hope!)
MALENA: My favorite books seem to change the more I read, but back to my original list, I still love A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY by John Irving (named our third child after Owen), LITTLE WOMEN, A BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, BRIDGET JONES DIARY. A lot of my favorite contemporary authors are ones I blog with at Girlfriends Book Club, so be sure and check out these fab authors, too.
MALENA: On the one hand, it’s overwhelming, but I’d like for authors to see personal networking as an opportunity. For as much time as it takes to tweet, Facebook, blog and do interviews, real connections are being made and I’ve made genuine friendships through the process, too. It really is a win-win and if you are only relying on the publisher or a publicist to make those connections for you then those are lost as soon as the ties to those people are gone. Since I’m epubbing FIXER UPPER (launches this week!) on Kindle and through Smashwords for the other ereader format, I’ve been so thankful for how many contacts I have to help get the word out about my new book. The tip would be that you have to do WAY MORE than you think you do. I may contact 50 blogs/media outlets to get 20 interviews. Also, having a theme or series on your blog is a good way to build a readership. I’ve done short series, but now I’m doing a 52-week series on verbinizing your life, one action verb at a time! Very excited about it.
MALENA: Well, I manage, but I wouldn’t say I’m entirely satisfied with it yet, but you have to be forgiving of yourself. My 3 kids have 3 different sets of school times so that means I’m busy taking, picking up and after-school activities, and since my lil guy is in half-day kindergarten I’m really not alone but two and a half a day, five days a week. I used those hours to go to the quiet room at the public library to finish the young adult novel I wrote in 2010. Otherwise I try to get some writing done in the mornings and a few hours on Sunday. I have to have quiet a lot more than I used to, so I might put earbuds in and listen to Bach to help block out noise.
MALENA: The first thing that popped into my head is my husband Rod! He’s an editor and a great writer, but he’s a film critic and writes articles and features, not long-form fiction or non-fiction. I’d like to do a book on marriage with him some day. We have a good one and I adore him. I’d love to inspire others. Love rules.