Guest Post: Destinee Faith Miller recaps the Top 5 Finalists of Miss Universe 2013

Valarie thought it would be fun to hear what Destinee Faith Miller had to say about the Miss Universe 2013 pageant, and I agreed.  However, after trying to “interview” her about it, I found myself getting into a truly crazy-making philosophical argument with her about feminism and body image.  You try arguing with an imaginary person you invented out of your own head.  No interview.  Instead, here is a nice little blog entry where Destinee gives you the run down on the Top 5 finalists of the competition, with a bonus look at Miss USA.

Hey, y’all!  I am so excited to be here on The Outside Lane today.  I am your pageant-insider look at the Top 5 finalists of the Miss Universe 2013 pageant.  Miss USA did not make the Top 5, so we’ll be looking at her separately, and considering what took her out of the running.

The Top 10 Finalists.
The Top 10 Finalists.

The last ladies standing were Miss Brazil, Miss Ecuador, Miss Philippines, Miss Spain, and Miss Venezuela.  As you can see, the competition was fierce.  From the swimsuit competition, the ladies go on to evening gown, where they are whittled down to 5, then they hit their marks for interview.  No one knows better than I do how quick an interview question can kill your shot at the crown!  But, a bad evening gown can hurt you, too.

Let’s take a look at the Top 5, with their National Costumes, Evening Gowns, and their Interview answers.  I must apologize for the shoddy quality of the photographs.  Lane does not share my dedication to perfection, and said I was just lucky to have photographs at all.

miss brazilMiss Brazil, here, was your 4th Runner Up.  I thought her National Costume was inspired–maybe inspired by my ideas for the Tiny Miss Proverbs 31 pageant!  While I loved the colors, the chest piece, and the headdress, I felt like the skirt took away from the overall quality.  It wasn’t flattering at all.

Her evening gown was too much like lingere for me.  I did like the sparkles, but the dusky rose color and the fabric looked like Eva Gabor’s favorite negligee.  If you can picture it showing up on Green Acres, you shouldn’t find it on a runway.

Her interview went like this…

Question: What is your opinion in places that do not allow women to vote, or drive cars?

Answer: Good evening everybody! In my opinion, we as women achieved our independence through time. Unfortunately nowadays we still have problems with our independence. But we need to keep our open minds because nowadays we are homemakers, part of a work force. We are capable of everything.

Now, if you ask me, she didn’t answer the question.  What’s she asking us to keep open minds about?  Is she asking us to keep open minds about people who think we can’t drive in our high heels, or vote with our tiny pea brains?  That’s a bad answer.  She should have talked about how God endowed us all with certain unalienable rights, and the right to vote is one of them.  She should have said how women’s voices need to be heard in order for us to have equality and justice in our governments, and how women ought to be able to drive themselves down to the polls so that they can take part in what makes their countries great.  God, country, and a pretty smile–she’d have placed a lot higher if she’d done like that.

4th was about right for her, I think.

miss philippines


Miss Philippines placed 3rd.  That girl was stunning!  She had the most beautiful hair, which she wore down straight for most of the competition.  I just loved her hair.  Her National Costume?  Not so much.  It looked like she’d chased a chicken around the yard for a hat, then grabbed one of the bridesmaid dresses out of her old maid aunt’s closet.  It looked two sizes too big, and the color did nothing for her beautiful complexion.

I’d say the same of her evening gown.  It was a lovely, flattering, structured gown and it moved beautifully, but the color was terrible.

Her interview went like this…

Question: What can be done about the lack of jobs for young people starting their career around the world?
Answer: I do believe we should invest in education and that is my primary advocacy. … Education is a primary source and a ticket for better future.

She actually gave a much more detailed answer about education, but I can’t find more than that up there.  I thought she did an excellent job, but she didn’t answer her question either.  What she did do is manage to turn her answer to her primary advocacy and make a passionate cry for funding it.  The problem is, getting more education just means more educated people who don’t have jobs.  They asked her about fixing the job market, and she answered with sending more people to school.

I really expected her to place higher because she was so pretty and poised.  I truly believe a better gown would have gotten her at least to 2nd Runner Up, possibly even to 1st.  I kind of feel like she belonged up there based on her looks and poise, but her boring National Costume and that chartreuse evening gown did her in.

miss ecuador

Miss Ecuador took 2nd Runner Up.  Look at that National Costume!  That’s about as perfect as it gets.  It’s glamorous, it’s sexy, but it isn’t at all trashy–Miss Great Britain is an example of how National Costume can get trashy right quick if you aren’t careful.  Oh, I just love that costume!  I wish so hard she had gone with that royal blue for her evening gown.  That just flattered her complexion so beautifully!

Instead, we get another cast off from Eva Gabor’s boudoir.  I don’t know why girls wear that old lady, seafoam green.  It’s a pretty color, but it has no energy, no zip, and just looks like a day lounging on the chaise with your Bichon and your manservant.  Miss Universe has to have energy.  She’s got a lot to do.

Her interview question went thusly…

Question: What would happen to the world if we could no longer use the internet?
Answer: Tech has disadvantages – we are no longer close with our families. We use the methodology of computers and internet for the positive. It is never too later to start. Let’s start now.

Answers like that make me wonder how many translators have been paid off to ruin a girl’s chances.  That answer was awful.  Not as bad as the terrible answer I gave that one time, but nigh on unintelligible.  That answer really should have dropped her back further in the rankings, at least to 3rd Runner Up.  The fact that it just dinged her to 2nd tells me that if she’d done a better job with her interview, she’d have been serious competition for the crown.

miss spainI do love some fringe.  The judges must have too because here is 1st Runner Up, Miss Spain.  I’ll tell you right here and now, once Miss USA was out of the running, Miss Spain was my pick of the pack–but I knew she wouldn’t win.  She was too sweet looking to win–didn’t have enough edge to her.  I thought she had the prettiest, brightest smile, and she was poised and graceful without looking haughty.  And also, fringe!  I just loved her National Costume.

I loved her evening gown, too.  It looked a lot prettier in motion than it does in the still pictures, but when she was walking it was just divine.  It fit her perfectly and flattered her skin tone better than any other gown in the Top 5.  I loved that pinky-champagne bodice, and you know how I feel about sparkles.  Y’all, I just loved her!  And I think she would have won, too, but…

Her interview question went like this:

Question: What is the most significant thing we can do help elect women to political offices around the world?
Answer: In order to select a good woman, she must posses good qualities in order to do a good job – discipline, knows how to adapt… so she can fulfill her job.

Y’all.  That question is so easy, and I’ll bet you money that Miss Philippines was just mad as a hornet that she didn’t get that one.  THAT is the question you answer with Education!  And you tie that in with that little Malala girl, who got shot for wanting to go to school.  You answer that by saying that there are little girls who are willing to risk their lives, standing up to terrorists for an education so that they can learn and lead the next generation into peace and prosperity, so the most significant thing we can do to help elect women to political offices around the world is educate girls and young women, and offer them opportunities for higher learning, and advocate internships or something like that.   I’d have knocked that one out of the park!  And she should have.  It wouldn’t have mattered if she had, though, because once it was down to those 5, the winner was clear.

miss venezuela

And, I can’t be too mad because Miss Universe 2013, Miss Venzuela, is a showstopper.  You look at her posture, how she holds her shoulders and the tilt of her chin.  That girl is a professional, and that is what confidence looks like.  How could you not give her the crown?  It just looks like it belongs on her head by sheer force of her own confident will.  Are you going to crown sweet little Princess Spain, or the clear Queen of the Universe Venezuela?

Now, her National Costume’s colors horrified me.  She looked like she fell into a vat of My Little Pony cake mix, but that girl can flat wear a hat.  As awful as her colors were, the costume itself fit her like a glove, and she wore the fire out of it.  That would have overpowered a lesser woman.  I do just love how she wears a hat.

When I first looked at her evening gown, I didn’t think much of it, but now I find myself admiring it.  It is white without being bridal, and structured without looking restrictive.  I like how it is sort of space-aged, and how the beading harkens back to the art deco days, and I do love a well executed long sleeve.  I did not like how obvious the modesty panel was, and I hated her shoes.  Those are shoes you’d find in Tishelle Tucker’s closet.

Her interview question went like this…

Question: What is your biggest fear and how do you plan to overcome it?
Answer: We should overcome all our fears and this in turn would make us stronger. As soon as we overcome our fears, we can face any challenge.

I honestly wasn’t sure that she understood the question, and thought she was just lucky that Spain had blown her answer, and Philippines had such an ugly colored dress.  I don’t think she’d have lost the contest either way because she  was just head and shoulders above the competition, but you want your beauty queens of her caliber to win by a landslide, not muddling through an interview question that was actually the easiest of the night.  That was an excellent opportunity for her to showcase her charm and wit–but maybe she doesn’t have any.  I don’t know.  I’d have said, “Why, Judge, my greatest fear is messing up an interview question like this!” Then, I’d have smiled brilliantly and dipped my chin while the audience laughed, and I’d have followed up with a serious face and said, “The only way we can overcome our fears is by powering through to the other side of them.  We cannot allow fear to hinder our progress–that is how the greatest nations in the world have come into prosperity.  We must face our fears and conquer them, so that we can achieve our goals, and find peace and harmony for the world.”  See?  That’s how it’s done.

Grand Finale - Miss Universe 2013You get a really good look at Miss Philippines’ hair here.  Those women are just gloriously beautiful!  The only thing missing was Miss USA, and it about broke my heart when she walked out in her evening gown because I am 100% positive that’s what cost her a spot in the Top 5.

miss usaY’all, as happy as Miss USA’s National Costume made me, and it did!  Her evening gown made me sad.  Look at that poor thing.  The bodice mashed her bustline down so that she looked oddly flat-chested–more like she had pecs than a feminine bosom.  The modestly panel made a weird line across her sternum, and that waistline?  Terrible.  The dress made her look thick and took away all her curves, when only moments earlier her swimsuit made it clear she was a glorious hourglass of All American.

I really wish we’d gotten to hear her interviewed because she did a really good job at the Miss USA pageant.

I was really proud of all the girls, though.  They were beautiful and no one fell down, or forgot her name, or anything crazy like that.

And I’m real happy I had a chance to visit with y’all today.

Buy Lane’s book and learn all about me!  It’s called TIARA TROUBLE, and you’ll love it.





Interview with the Author: BLOGGER GIRL’s Meredith Schorr (interview/review)

Author, Meredith Schorr.

Today, our writer guest is Meredith Schorr, author of JUST FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, STATE OF JANE, and her latest novel BLOGGER GIRL.  We were fortunate to get a little time to interview Meredith about her new release.

The Outside Lane:  Kimberly Long, the main character of BLOGGER GIRL, is relatable and beleaguered.  What is the challenge in taking an ordinary girl and making her extraordinarily readable?

Meredith Schorr:  My brand is “chick lit for real chicks” and so common to all of my books is a very relatable heroine – someone who might remind the reader of herself or at least someone she knows. While I strive to create likeable characters, they are always flawed. I allow them to make mistakes, to feel jealous and insecure, to snap at a friend or colleague, to make dumb choices. I care a lot about my characters and it often hurts me to put them into difficult situations especially when I know their judgment is off, but if it is important to the story and adds an element of depth to my characters, it’s the right thing to do.

TOL:  What do you like best about Chick Lit?

MS:  I like that chick lit is often grounded in reality but peppered with a lot of humor and *usually* a happy ending. Chick lit takes real life situations and struggles and makes you laugh about them. I often nod my head in understanding while I am reading a chick lit book and feel that I am not alone. And when I read the last line, the book often leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy inside with an optimistic spirit.

TOL:  How do you think writing for women has changed since Bridget Jones?

MS:  I think initially, many authors tried to ride the coattails of the Bridget Jones phenomenon and write similar stories. Most did not succeed in my opinion but some did. Some authors captured the humor and realism and created unique characters to love but others were just poor imitations. As a result, the market was saturated with unimaginative books full of clichés until editors stopped publishing chick lit unless the author was already very well established. During this time, in my opinion, there weren’t nearly enough humorous books written about women as some of the bigger authors changed their style to write more serious women’s fiction but with the growth of self-publishing and smaller “indie” publishing houses, I am seeing a lot more well-written, original and hilarious stories again. I don’t only write chick lit but I read it as well and so I am thrilled to have discovered so many new authors over the past few years.

TOL:  What has been your biggest learning experience in releasing your third novel?

MS:  I have learned that giving away free copies of your book in exchange for reviews before the book is released really does make a huge difference in spreading the word. With my other two novels, I didn’t have nearly as much time pre-publication to contact bloggers and readers of the genre. By the timeBlogger Girl was released, there was already a certain amount of buzz from people who had read and enjoyed it and so sales picked up quickly whereas with my other books, it took several months

TOL:  Talk about your publishing experience—how did you choose Booktrope?

MS:  After I finished writing my second novel, A State of Jane, I wasn’t sure what my next steps would be. I wasn’t interested in spending years querying agents who would then spend years shopping around to publishers. I also didn’t want to self-publish because with my busy day job, I knew I needed the support of a publisher behind me in terms of editing, formatting, cover art, marketing etc. Unfortunately, I was not happy with the publisher of my first novel. A writer friend told me about Booktrope. I knew a few authors who had published with them and had enjoyed their books.  Upon doing research, I was incredibly impressed with Booktrope’s “team publishing” philosophy. Every Booktrope author is teamed with an editor, cover artist and book manager and everyone on the team receives a portion of the royalties of the book. It also seemed that Booktrope was very much in tune with the changes in the publishing industry and willing to take risks. I loved that they offered marketing support because my original publisher did not. I also liked that their books were priced competitively, that they were always looking for new ways to market books, that they were staffed with experts in the field yet allowed the author a certain amount of control as well. Although they weren’t accepting unsolicited submissions at the time, I was lucky in that one of their best-selling authors, Tess Thomson, referred me to them and they offered me a contract. I had a great experiencing publishing A State of Jane with Booktrope and so when Blogger Girl was finished, I did not hesitate sending it to them. And now they have taken over the rights to my first novel, Just Friends with Benefits, too. I look forward to a long writing career with Booktrope!

TOL:  Cast your book for the movie version.  Pick your stars!

MS:  Kimberly – Isla Fisher
Nicholas – Matt Long
Bridget – Blake Lively (with red hair)
Hannah – Kristin Ritter
Jonathan – Adam Brody

TOL:  How much of your own world figures in to the worlds you write about?

MS:  Although all of my novels are 100% fiction, most of my inspiration comes from real life. Characters are often loosely inspired by people I have met. And I will admit that I often take bits and pieces of real life, tweak them and use them out of context. Life is too humorous not to!

TOL:  If you could get a cover blurb from any author in the world, whose words of praise would you want on the back of your book?

MS:  Well, my chick lit “crush” is Sophie Kinsella but I would have to go with Judy Blume. Her YA books kept me (somewhat) sane turning my tween/early teen years. I read every book over and over again (and not just Forever…) It was like she just knew what I was feeling. To have an icon like Judy Blume endorse one of my books would be a dream come true.

TOL:  Meredith, thank you so much for joining us today.  We certainly appreciate your time.

I received a promotional copy of BLOGGER GIRL through Chick Lit Plus to review (and I bought a copy, too, because I know how writers rely on sales.)   There is a lot to like about Meredith Schorr’s third book, BLOGGER GIRL.  There is more to like than not.  It is a well written, well edited Chick Lit book that follows the expected rules of the genre while taking some unconventional twists and turns that keep the story original and fresh.  I liked how real the relationships between the characters felt, and had fun with the meta aspects of the main character’s (Kim Strong’s) daily life.

Meredith writes assertively and assuredly.

I wish I had liked Kim Strong more, but I have this feeling that she and I would not enjoying sharing a seat on the train.  This is mainly because Kim reminded me way too much of the worst parts of my younger self, and I would either be lecturing, or shaking her by the shoulders.  No one likes to get yelled at on the train, and certainly no one wants to be shaken.

BLOGGER GIRL really hits its stride right around the halfway mark, and was not a bad way to spend a few hours.

The only thing keeping me from giving the book 4 stars is the fact that Kim and I have a personality conflict, and I am afraid she will make fun of the size of my rear as soon as I am out of earshot.  This does not mean that you and Kim will have a personality conflict, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

4 out of 5 stars for me

Author Bio:

A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to, and was famous among her friends for writing witty birthday cards. After dabbling in children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing “real chick lit for real chicks.” When Meredith is not hard at work on her current work in progress, she spends her days as a trademark paralegal at a law firm in New York City. Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner. She also loves to read and is always on the lookout for her new favorite author. A State of Jane is her second novel.

Connect with Meredith!!/MeredithSchorrAuthor

Buy the Book!

Amazon US

Amazon UK


Apple iTunes

November 4 – The Little Black Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

November 5 – Book Mama – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt

November 6 – Books in the Burbs – Review & Excerpt

November 7 – The Gothic Ballerina – Guest Post

November 11 – The Outside Lane – Review & Q&A

November 12 – Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post

November 14 – Livia Ellis – Review & Excerpt

November 18 – Bee’s Knees Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt

November 19- Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

November 20- Leigh Bennett – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt

November 22 – Chick Lit Plus – Review

November 25 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt

**Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Blogger Girl before  November 25 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**

Guest Post: Killing It With LynDee Walker

LynDee Walker just came home from the Killer Nashville writers’ conference, where she was serving on panels and promoting her books.  I asked if she would sum it up for us.  What was the conference like?  What was it like to be a panelist?  What was the best thing to happen?  Keep reading to find out!


Killer Conference

by LynDee Walker

Best moment of Killer Nashville 2013: I rushed down from lunch on Friday to get set for my panel appearance, and while I was fussing with the mic and getting water, an adorable lady walked up and totally made my week.

“LynDee, I just have to tell you that I read your book before I even knew you’d be here, and I loved it,” she said. “I can’t wait for the new one to come out!”

Amazing, right? I grinned and thanked her. “Only fifty-something more days!” I said.

“I’m so glad. And what’s after that one?” she asked.

When I floated back down and could focus, I said, “well, there’s a Nichelle novella (DATELINE MEMPHIS) coming up in a Christmas anthology (HEARTACHE MOTEL) in December and then the third novel will be out in the spring.”

She was very excited about that. I, of course, gave her one of every kind of Headlines in High Heels swag I had with me and thanked her for reading.

It was a great kick off to the weekend.

This was my first trip to Music City in *cough*almost 20 years*cough* and I had a blast. Killer Nashville is a mystery writers and readers conference held every summer at the Hutton Hotel in Downtown Nashville. Let’s talk about this hotel for a sec: it’s posh. One of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed. In fact, it’s where the cast of the TV show Nashville stays when they’re in town, if that gives you an idea. Big, gorgeous rooms, comfy beds, plush robes, turndown service. It’s … nice.

I got in Thursday and hung out on the room, trying to write. For months, I’ve been talking about how much progress I’d make on my new book in Nashville because it would be quiet and I’d have a room all to myself. Guess what? It was too quiet. I ended up turning the TV on the Disney channel. I worked until the conference registration opened, and then I went down to register and found the fabulous Terri L. Austin in the lobby. She is just as funny in person as she is in her Rose Strickland mysteries, and we had a great dinner and gabfest. Romance author Shannon K. Butcher was incognito, just hanging out for the weekend (she had two massages. I was so jealous.) But it was lovely to meet her, too. She’s awesome.

Friday started with the most amazing blueberry muffin I’ve ever had (this weekend was almost as much about the food as the books) and the rest of my Hen House friends arriving: such fun to hang out with Larissa Reinhart and Gretchen Archer all weekend! My panel was up first, and it was great. Edgar-winning author (and former journalist) Steven Womack was the leader, and we were joined by three-time Pulitzer nominee Gwen Florio (she’s Nichelle’s new hero), along with Tom Wood, a 36-year veteran of the Nashville Tennesseean’s sports desk, and Eugenie West, a reporter-turned-fiction writer from Pennsylvania. The discussion spun from favorite stories to the rapidly-changing news industry to why we all decided to write fiction instead of true crime (1: too much research. I get a headache just thinking about it. 2: if there’s anything in the publishing industry that’s harder to get a deal for than novels, it’s true crime. Steve wrote one, and even with his resume, he said “I couldn’t give it away.”)

LynDee Walker (far right) and her Henery Press compatriots at Killer Nashville.
LynDee Walker (far right) and her Henery Press compatriots at Killer Nashville.

In the midst of the conference fun, I was also participating in a fundraiser for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society on my fab friend Colby Marshall’s blog. This cause, and this event, are both very close to my heart, so I dashed up to the room after my panel to reply to comments on my guest post. I was amazed to find more than 50 waiting. I took five pages of notes so I could answer everyone, wrote a long post, lost my wifi connection (thank heavens I’d copied the post) finally got it posted and dashed back down for a writing workshop and dinner.

We made a new friend, the fantastically talented Kourtney Heintz, who joined us for the rest of the week and is so smart, and such fun to hang out with, too.

We walked to a Mexican food place with dancing frogs on the roof and an Elvis shrine in the lobby and decided that with Terri, Larissa, and my Elvis-centric anthology due out for Christmas, it was a sign the place had good food. We were right. They had particularly good salsa, and this Texas girl knows good salsa.

More chatting ensued, and then I went back to the room and wrote some more. A really fun scene with Nichelle’s favorite sweet bad boy that I can’t wait for y’all to read. (I know. That’s mean. But I promise it’s worth waiting for.)

I spent Saturday morning learning so much about publishing and craft at various panels and workshops. Kourtney, Gretchen and I snuck away for lunch and sightseeing Saturday afternoon. We had a blast touring the legendary Ryman auditorium and walking along Nashville’s famed Broadway.

Saturday night I had the best dinner date: Larissa Reinhart, who is the only woman I’ve ever met who can snort gracefully, and is just as genuine and funny as her Cherry Tucker mysteries. We ate pasta and drank wine and talked until too late.

Sunday morning I got waylaid on the way to Kourtney’s cross-genre fiction panel by Tom, who regaled me with an awesome story of his early-80s interview with Stephen King. Talk about a writer’s dream! I’ve been a fan since I was in sixth grade. Definitely the experience of a lifetime.

In Kourtney’s panel I learned a ton about marketing and selling books that don’t fit into a niche, which might be very useful information someday. I laughed my way through Terri and Larissa’s panel, Funny Business, and scrambled to get last-minute signed books from the wonderful authors I met.

Ris and I capped the weekend with lunch and another gabfest, about our mystery heroines and story arcs and where it’s all going. It was great fun.

I’m glad to be home with my babies (where I can actually write!), but it was definitely a weekend to remember. Many thanks to the readers and friends old and new who made it special.

Interview with the Author: The Second Time Around with LynDee Walker

I know you’re all looking forward to LynDee Walker’s latest installment of the Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mysteries, but you have to wait just a wee bit longer.  I didn’t have to–bragging.

I already know how it ends.  Ha!  You're going to love it.
I already know how it ends. Ha! You’re going to love it.

However, as much as I have enjoyed my Advanced Reader Copy of BURIED LEADS, I can’t tell you what happens.  I can tell you that LynDee’s series is only getting stronger, and I asked if she would come talk to us about what it’s like the second time around.

Q:  So, LynDee, what differs from the release of your first book to your second?

A:  Not much, that I can see, except I have readers who know who I am. The first time, I was really nobody from nowhere. I wondered what kind of reception Nichelle would get from readers, but it was all theoretical, because no one had ever heard of either of us.

This time, there are people who read Front Page Fatality and really enjoyed it, and they’re waiting for Buried Leads to launch. It’s a little wild for me to wrap my head around the fact that there’s even one reader who’s not in my immediate circle who is waiting for my book to launch. And it’s really cool.

She looks good with a Sharpie!  LynDee signing books for her fans.
She looks good with a Sharpie! LynDee signing books for her fans.  She might have been new with Front Page Fatality, but now she’s got masses of adoring readers.


Q:  What do you know, going into the second release, that you wish you’d known with the first?

A:  That an author can only do so much. I’m a control freak, and I planned everything and booked blogs months in advance. And don’t get me wrong, it helps. A lot. And I think as an author you have to put that effort in (and I am doing it for Buried Leads, though I do have a tour organizer and my fantabulous Henery Press marketing folks taking care of a lot of the blog tour stuff this time). But you have to understand that you can write guest blog posts until your fingers fall off and it will not magically make you JK Rowling.

In the end, the very best thing that can happen is that you do the work, and then the retailers decide to help you.


Q:  What role does your editor play in getting your book shelf-ready?

A:  Oh, I could go on forever about this. But I won’t, because my editor would  slap my hand. I am blessed to have an editor who really gets Nichelle and understands what I want my stories to be. That is so, so important in this business.

She is brilliant and very good at her job, and she sees things in the books that don’t come across the way I intended and offers suggestions to make them better. But she listens to me. If I say, “wait, that’s important later,” or “I adore that character, how can I keep him?” she brainstorms with me and we figure it out together. I love the feeling of teamwork, and knowing that she cares about my career.

And all that “tightly written, fast-paced” praise I get? That’d be because my editor is a master of trimming and speeding the story without losing anything. One of the things I love most about working with her is that she’s teaching me to be a better writer.

Here we are with LynDee's poster.  And you thought the cover art was cute on its own?  I want my LIFE to look like this poster.
The most fun of book releases is meeting people, LynDee says.


Q:  Now that you are releasing book 2, writing book 3, and are involved in a couple of other Nichelle mini-novels, what advice would you give writers who are looking for the big break?

A:  Why, Miss Lane, I think we had this discussion very recently, didn’t we? [Yes!  Which is why I want TOL readers to hear it from you! Lane] Here it is, y’all, as crazy as it sounds: enjoy writing just for the love of writing. It should always be true, in my opinion, but it’s easy for that to get lost in the pressure of deadlines and edits and marketing after you have a contract (or three). I owe my friend Gretchen McNeil thanks for telling me that about a year before Front Page sold, and now I have paid it forward. Your days of editors and deadlines and reviews will come in their own time. If you’re a writer, it’s part of who you are. Take joy in sitting down and creating.


Q:  Tell us about the audio books.

A: *Squeals* That was the most amazing thing yet! I think. Maybe tied with that amazon #1. But really: an actress (no, I do not know who yet) is going to read my books out loud. Holy crow. All I really know about it right now is that the rights to both Front Page and Buried Leads have sold, and as the production process moves along, we’ll have more information on the narrator and release dates.


Q:   What is the most fun part of the book release?

A:  Meeting people. Getting to know different folks was always my favorite part of being a reporter, and whether it’s online or at a signing, meeting people—readers, other authors, bloggers, booksellers—is my favorite part of this, too.

lyndee reads

Q:  Tell us where your release is going to happen, and why that is awesome.

A:  It IS awesome! The Buried Leads launch party is part of this year’s Virginia Literary Festival! I am just over the moon about this opportunity. The people who organize the festival are amazing, and it’s such a great event. And and AND, we’re launching this book at the Library of Virginia, which is a breathtaking building that houses the state’s most important historical document collections. In Virginia, that’s some pretty amazing stuff. Nichelle would be honored to be so close to that much history.

Thank you so much for stopping by to chat, LynDee.  I know everyone is very excited to get Buried Leads.  It is available for pre-order now.


Interview with the Editor: Kendel Flaum of Henery Press

LynDee Walker’s new book, Buried Leads, is due out in October.  I am very excited to start talking about it, but you’re going to have to wait just a little longer–ee!  Meanwhile, I had the great pleasure of meeting LynDee’s editor, Kendel Flaum, and thought you’d enjoy hearing from her.  As the managing editor of Henery Press, she has great insight and is, of course, very interesting.

But don’t just take my word for it.  This is Kendel’s bio:

Kendel Flaum is a Southern California native who now parks her flip flops in Dallas, Texas. Deciding to combine her fifteen years of entrepreneurial savvy and over a decade of designing, writing, and editorial experience, she launched Henery Press, an independent publishing house focused on mystery and suspense. As managing editor, she’s always looking for captivating stories — from cozies and crime capers to paranormals and PIs. She’s got a coop full of award-winners and nominees in the Hen House, and just loves finding a gem in the slush pile.


Henery Press is an independent publisher in the mystery/suspense genre focused on engaging stories with sharp twists and lively characters. We want every reader to enjoy a captivating story written by a talented author wrapped in a pretty package.

Q)  I love the story of how Henery Press came to be.  Will you please tell it for our audience?

Let me nutshell it for your readers: It started from a love of writing. Which led me to an amazing organization, Sisters in Crime, and its upstart sub-chapter, the Guppies. I met my mentor there, I met my bff there, and I met 500+ mystery writers looking to be published there. After several years, Diane Vallere, the aforementioned bff, and I decided to create a sub-chapter of the Guppies called called Press Quest where we’d spearhead the efforts to compile information on every mid-to-small-to boutique press open to mystery writers. We researched until our fingers cramped – we detailed lists, facts, databases, interviews, websites, and on-the-ground commentary.

Some of that commentary proved scary: contracts that fell apart, offers to publish in weeks (weeks! oy.), cringe-worthy covers, non-existent support. After years of being in the trenches, writing, editing, designing, I decided there had to be a better way. One with a chicken at the helm. (Side note: In a previous life, I spent over fifteen years building a completely separate business from dollar one into a multi-million dollar company, so I knew what it would take.)

That’s some nutshell.


Henery: Where it happens.  And by "it", I mean "great fun."
Henery: Where it happens. And by “it”, I mean “great fun.”


Q)  When we met, we talked about how covers sell books. The cover art coming out of Henery is every kind of eye-catching, captivating, and charming.  Who creates the art, and how do you fit the art to the book?

Why, thank you for the kind words! I absolutely believe the cover is essential to the book, everyone likes to see a pretty package. We consult with the author to get their take, then meet with the in-house staff to discuss. Once we have a concept, we’ll either design here or hire freelance – or both.


Just a few of the eye catching covers coming out of Henery.
Just a few of the eye catching covers coming out of Henery.


Q)  What are the most challenging, and the most delightful aspects of your work?

The nuts and bolts of publishing can be the most challenging, probably because it’s not as much fun as engaging artwork and intriguing editorial. It’s also quite a challenge to find manuscripts – our catalog has limited space (about 2 books per month), and we’re building quite a niche in the mystery market. 

Q)  A good editor can help an author craft a decent manuscript into a great book.  How do help an author on the edge of greatness make that leap?

Agreed, an editor can see things the author can’t. Mostly because the author has read the manuscript about 113 times. I’d say the most useful tool in the box is remembering “less is more.” Truly, tighten, tighten, tighten. Keep the dialog snappy, the scenes vivid, and the narrative on point. And when if your beta readers all love your work, you need new betas.You need the beta who enjoys your writing, but dishes out the sharp critiques. Like you said, it’s turning decent into great.


LynDee's new book, due out on October 15, 2013.  In an upcoming interview with the author, LynDee will give you her take on the importance of having a great editor like Kendel.
LynDee’s new book, due out on October 15, 2013. In an upcoming interview with the author, LynDee will give you her take on the importance of having a great editor like Kendel.


Q)  How can an author make an editor’s job easier?

Don’t forgo the beta/editor stage when writing the second, third, fourth books. When you wrote your first, it probably went through 57 drafts, plus a multitude of critiques, contests, betas, and revisions. Over and over and over again until that baby sparkled. Now that you’ve sold it, and it’s published, and you’re onto the next, take the same care. Only more. Push yourself to be better, stronger. And that generally means better betas. (I’m sensing a theme…)

Q)  What advice would you give to aspiring editors?  Or people looking to break into publishing on the publishing house side of the industry?

Start freelancing. Even if you don’t get paid in the beginning, just to prove your work. Start with 50 page critiques, and move on from there. Read every writing book you can get your hands on, read lots of genres to understand techniques. Then grab an internship if you can find one. Nothing like learning from the inside.

Q)  What was your favorite book growing up?

Just one? I’m torn between A Wrinkle in Time, Charlotte’s Web, Little Women, and The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot.

Lane, thank you so much for having me. It was a delight to meet you in person, and an honor to be featured on your blog!

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