Saturday, May 26, 2012

Giveaway and Interview with Lauren Sweet and her book Aladdin's Salmavor.

Good Morning my divine devotees!!  Thank you for stopping by on this festive fun in the sun weekend!  I have a special treat for you to kick of the holiday weekend with.  I was able to capture Lauren for an interview and this is what she had to say:

How old were you when you first realized you wanted to write?
I’ve always loved books, ever since I learned to read when I was about three, so writing was more or less an offshoot of that love. I didn’t start writing seriously until I graduated from college, got a real job and found out what working for a living was like. (“You mean, you expect me to dress up and come here every day?”) Like most writers, I still have the dream of one day supporting myself with my writing, but until then, I do it for love.

Tell us a little bit about the book.
Aladdin’s Samovar is humorous paranormal suspense: Amber Polaski finds a sexy genie in an antique brass samovar and wishes to find her long-lost father, only to find out he’s on the run from the Mafia. People get shot at, shrink wrapped, and pounced on by a pack of Happy Puppies—and Amber is forced to defend herself against Mafia assassins with common household appliances. Just another day in Jersey!

What made you choose this genre?
Well, the genre kind of chose me. I was taking a writing workshop and the character of Amber popped into my head, with the idea that she would own a thrift-store samovar which turned out to have a genie in it. Then I got the idea to turn the story into a novel, and to have Amber’s wish to find her father come true, but be complicated by the fact that he was on the run from the Mafia. So…genie + Mafia = paranormal suspense. And Amber and the genie turned out to be funny, so there you are.

Most authors have an unusual story or way that they come up with their ideas for books…Do you have one?
Usually I have a major character or idea pop into my head—I don’t know exactly where they come from. (I think the idea fairy flies over my bed while I’m sleeping and whacks me with her wand.) But all the smaller ideas that make that first idea into a novel…those I have to track down and stab with my pen to keep them from getting away. I do a lot of brainstorming on paper and/or the computer screen, with lots of questions: (What did Dad steal from the Mafia? Did he do it for money, or to bring down the bad guys? Who’s the guy in the Hawaiian shirt? Why is he in the coffee shop? etc.). I try lots of different answers until one feels right and I get excited about it. Eventually, I put the plot together like a jigsaw puzzle.

What is the key element in your character creation?
I have a very bizarre imagination, I guess. (Or my characters are really alive in a parallel dimension.) As I’m visualizing scenes, the characters start doing things in my mind—like a mental movie. A lot of what they do and say is funny, so I write it down. So I guess the key is just to give myself time to alternate typing and staring into space, so they have an opportunity to do their thing.

What was your biggest influence that steered you towards writing?
Just my love of books and stories, I think. A good story can create a whole world in your mind—it’s like magic, really, that random squiggles on a page can create such a vivid experience that many people can share. So the idea of being able to do that for other people—to create a world that would draw them in and make them laugh and maybe brighten up their day—was irresistible.

I have to ask, what are the hardest scenes for you to write?
For me it’s the emotional scenes. Even though Aladdin’s Samovar is a comedy, there are scenes where Amber is dealing with her feelings about her father, and where Amber and Jasper’s relationship is developing. Those were the hardest for me—especially since Amber is pretty sarcastic and doesn’t like to show her feelings. It was difficult to get the right tone, to keep the humor and yet show the genuine emotion coming through.

Are sex scenes difficult for you to word?
Aladdin’s Samovar doesn’t have full sex scenes, so I was able to skirt around the issue of how much to describe and which words to use. The book does have a lot of sexual references and innuendo, but I tried to keep it fairly PG—to suggest things rather than state them explicitly. In general, I think you have to be aware of your readership and what they enjoy. Some readers like extremely hot, erotic books, but many people are made uncomfortable by explicit sex. I wanted this book to appeal to a wide readership, so I tried to keep the sexual references light and humorous, in keeping with the tone of the rest of the book.

Do you see yourself writing in another genre?
I like lots of different genres—mystery, fantasy, historical, romance—and I’d like to write in all of them! I plan on living to be about 137 in order to accommodate this desire.

Has your family been supportive?
My family is awesome! They’ve always supported me in everything I do, and writing is no exception. My sister is one of my biggest supporters—she’s always telling everyone she knows that they should buy my book. I’m very lucky.

Are any of your characters reflective of you?
I think all three of my main characters—Amber, Jasper the genie, and Amber’s mother Indigo have aspects of my personality. Amber has my control-freak side and my martyr complex (“How come I’m responsible for everything?”). Jasper has my mischievous side, and Indigo is the hippie new-age side of me multiplied by at least a thousand. But since it’s a comedy, I get to exaggerate all of that and play it for laughs, which is fun.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Read, of course! I also like to sing karaoke (especially cheesy country songs), and I ice skate. Right now I have a new skating routine (jumps, spins and all!) that I’m learning for a competition in August.

Who is your favorite book heroine?
Ooh, so many books, so little time…I love Jacqueline Kirby, the heroine of several of Elizabeth Peters’ mysteries. She can be wacky, businesslike, scholarly, creative—whatever the situation needs—and she solves mysteries while attracting handsome men. I also love Mrs. Pollifax, the heroine of Dorothy Gilman’s books. She’s a sixty-year-old grandmother who decides to be a spy and joins the CIA—but does everything in her own unique way! I want to be her when I grow up.

Do you have any unusual habits that revolve around writing?
Wow, what a great question! I wish I did have some bizarre quirks that would prove how unique and creative I am, but I can’t think of any. I’m almost tempted to make one up. Like, I only write while wearing red underwear. Or between the hours of midnight and 3 am, while standing up and facing east. Alas, I’m not that interesting.

What is your favorite mystical creature?
Definitely the Pegasus. A flying horse—how amazing would that be? For me, they symbolize the freedom of spirit we all need to be creative. (Plus, they’re really pretty.)

What were some of your biggest challenges at the beginning of your career?
I feel like my career is still beginning! I think the biggest challenge is finding ways to get the word out about my book, so more readers can enjoy it. That, and making sure I make time to write regularly, even when my work schedule gets busy.

How do you feel about reader comments?
I love to get reader feedback. I want to create the kind of experience for readers that I’ve had with the  books and characters I love, and I always want to know what they like and what they don’t like.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
I’m an editor as well as an author, so my best advice is to learn the craft of writing—not just use of language, but also novel structure, characterization, conflict, point of view—all the nuts and bolts that make a story work. I’ve seen too many people who put words and sentences together well, but whose incomplete grasp of storycrafting is keeping them from success, and it just breaks my heart.

Where are your books available?
Aladdin’s Samovar is available as an ebook from and Barnes & Noble.

What can we expect from you in the future?
More Amber and Jasper books, for one thing! I have ideas for five or six more books. I’m also working on a fantasy novel about a fallen angel who comes to earth and falls in love with a diner waitress in Montana, and just today I was telling a writer friend of mine about the novel I’ve always wanted to write, retelling Anderson’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen.” Stay tuned!

Where can we reach you and become informed of updates?

Please check out my website, Also, I’ve recently discovered the coolness of Goodreads, and hope to see many of you there!

Book description: Aladdin’s Samovar (Samovar Mysteries #1)

A nice, normal, boring life—that’s all Amber Polaski ever wanted. One where she’s not unchaining her flaky New Age mom from endangered trees, bailing her out of jail, or getting dragged to naked pagan rituals. But when Amber finds a sexy genie in her antique brass samovar, any hope of normal goes up in smoke.

It’s just one tiny little wish—to find her long-lost father. What could go wrong?

Plenty. Dad shows up, all right—with a computer drive full of stolen data and angry mobsters hot on his trail. Now Amber has Fugitive Dad holed up in her Manville, NJ duplex, fending off the Mafia on one side and the FBI on the other. And she has Jasper the genie lounging in her blue plush recliner, conjuring chocolate chip cookies and passing himself off as her boyfriend. While Jasper is trying to tempt Amber with more disastrous wishes—and his seriously hot thousand-year-old body—Amber and her mom are forced to fight off Mafia assassins with nothing but chutzpah and household appliances. 

It’s time for Amber to call in the B-team: Iggy the homeless dwarf, Tim the ecoterrorist, and Wanda the Fairy Dogmother with her pack of Happy Puppies. Together, they need to save Dad before the Mob makes him disappear again—permanently!

Author bio:

Lauren Sweet was born and raised in New Jersey, spending her formative years sneaking books under her desk to read during math class. After working in business administration for way too many years, she finally escaped to Alaska and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Lauren now lives near Portland, OR, and is a freelance writer and editor. Her other esoteric skills include astrology, figure skating, and the ability to do a perfect split.

Wow!!  I can't say it enough, this was a great read!!  And all of you lucky ducks have a chance to win a copy!!  Just fill out the rafflecopter!!!  Good luck and have a great Memorial Day!!! a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lisa Cox said...

Hmmm, 1 wish? I guess I would wish for lots and lots of money. I have happiness, a great husband, I love my house. With lots and lots of money I could finish the attic and make it into my library and fill it with all kinds of books.

wanda f said...

continued Good health for those I love

writerservices said...

Hi Lisa and Wanda--thanks for stopping by! It's really hard to decide what to wish for, isn't it? I always go back and forth between something for myself, and something for other people... Probably the hardest part of writing Aladdin's Samovar was figuring out what Amber would wish for in the first place--what she wanted more than anything.

Denise Z said...

Wow wishes have such consequences and ripples, it is hard not to pull a Miss America and say World Peace, but in truth I think I would love to have my bills paid, good health for my loved ones, and maybe a little more self confidence - too hard to choose. Thank you for the fun pondering and lovely giveaway opportunity.

Amber Daulton said...

I have no idea what to wish for if I only had ONE wish. It's too difficult.
Thanks for the giveaway.

Shadow said...

Only one wish? Im not sure what id wish for. I think id go for happiness for my family. I want them happy and taken care of. Thanks! Sounds like a great book!

wyndwhisper said...

thank you for the chance at such a great giveaway. i love the cover and the book sounds wonderful.

i would probably wish to be whole in body again. i injured my back in 2007 and i have a lot of problems walking now. also developed some PTSD and anxiety. it would be nice to be able to go back to the time before i was hurt and just enjoy a simple walk.

tammy ramey

heather said...

Love your review for this book, Nikki, and now I really want to read it! One wish, for me and my family are happy and healthy. Because if I'm not healthy, I can't make any of my other wishes come true :)

andieleah said...

If I had one wish....I'd wish for Tatem Channing!!!! Lol.

Lynn's Romance Enthusiasm said...

If I had a genie and one wish? World peace? Don't believe me? My first thought would be a never ending supply of romance novels to be read by a really cute guy on the beach of my own private island.

Jessie @ Jessie's Random Place said...

That's easy, I'll wish for my room to be organized. I can't ever do that myself, and it drives me crazy.

Unknown said...

I'd wish to get my dream home with maids to keep it clean for me ;)

mcv said...

I would wish for good health for me and my family, because if you have your health you can haandle anything.

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