An Interview with FSF Net Author, Lauren Lynne

Hello Everyone!  Today, I’m delighted to present my recent interview with the lovely and talented, Lauren Lynne, author of The Secret Watchers series!  Lauren and I happened to meet a few months ago through the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network.  During this time I’ve grown not only to respect her as a writer, but I’ve also come to think of her as a friend.  So, without further ado, here’s, Lauren…


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Lauren, it’s wonderful to have you as a guest on my blog!  Can you tell us a little about your latest book?  My latest book is Perceptions, the fourth book in The Secret Watchers series.  I am writing book five right now.  The protagonist is Owen Ryer.  The series begins when Owen is an average eighth grader until one day it all changes.  Owen has a special ability he never knew he had, but figuring out how to use it is the least of his problems.  By Perceptions Owen is a junior in high school, his grades are slipping, he’s having girlfriend problems and people are trying to kill him.  He is used by people who should be helping others and has to face the darkness he holds within.

Perceptions front cover


Sounds like a great read!  What inspired you to write this?  My day job unexpectedly took a sharp decline in hours and I was left feeling frustrated with lots of time on my hands so I just started writing like crazy.  It was a great way to turn all the angst around.   I have always enjoyed young adult books but as a teacher and parent I wanted to keep up with what my boys were reading so if they read it… I read it.  The exception was Twilight – they won’t touch it but a friend gave it to me.  I liked it and when I discovered that Breaking Dawn, part one, was out in theaters I thought I better get caught up.  I loved what they had done with Jacob in the films; he was my favorite in the books, so my idea for Owen kind of began with him.  I wanted a humble hero, who cared for others more than he should sometimes.

Was writing this book an enjoyable experience, or did you find it difficult at times?  I wrote book one, Visions, in about six weeks.  It has taken me longer to write the rest.  Visions began as a stand-alone but I quickly realized that Owen’s story could not be done in one book I stretched it into a five book series.  I had never published before so it took me a year after I began writing Visions to release it to the public.  There is so much to learn about the publishing business.  It makes every day an adventure.  Now I have to fight for my writing time.  I often have more ideas than I can get down.

Care to talk about your protagonist?  How did you dream him/her to life?  I touched on this briefly but Owen is an interesting guy.  He is a bit of my own boys who were thirteen and sixteen when I began writing.  Owen is also a mix of many of my favorite young adult heroes from literature.  I wanted a protagonist that young people could relate to and would genuinely like despite his faults.  It was also very important to me that he have problems like kiddos in the real world.

What projects are you currently working on?   I am madly writing book five, Destiny.  I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to the characters I’ve come to love so in the future there will be other Secret Watchers books where some of my fans and my favorites will return in minor roles.  I have also started work in a new genre.  It’s a dystopian with a female protagonist.

Do you consider yourself to be a self-conscious writer?  Why or why not?  Interesting question.  I started out that way and was afraid that people wouldn’t like me.  I thought that I was a failure if I didn’t get all five star reviews.  Now I know better.  Today I write for me and my fans and if someone is a hater, that’s their choice because the only person I can ever really hope to change is me.  So… it’s okay if someone doesn’t like my books because there are plenty of other folks who do and they are the ones I really care about.

As a writer, are you a fan of the close-up view, like exploring a microcosm, a subculture?  Or do you prefer the wide shot—looking at an entire cosm, culture?   Strangely, I would have to say both.  To date, the books I have published have been from the protagonist’s perspective but you can experience the world around him from his point of view.  His life’s experiences skew his view but you can still experience his culture, class, ethnicity, etc.

What kind of environment do you write in?  A noisy café, a quiet library, at your kitchen table?  I do my best writing at the computer in my home office.  Don’t let that fool you – as a busy mom holding down two jobs and trying to write, I take a journal wherever I go.  In other words you can find me writing almost anywhere including, as a passenger in a car.  I just have to be careful because I get really motion sick.

What was the first thing you ever wrote?  How old were you?  I have almost always been a writer; I just didn’t recognize myself as one.  When I was in about fourth grade, I started a mystery version based around the filming of The Wizard of Oz.  My grandfather was part of the sound department at MGM and worked on the film so I’ve always had a special place in my heart for it.  I also read a book called Murder on the Yellow Brick Road by Stuart M. Kaminsky which also made me want to write something during the time of the filming.

Is there a difference between Lauren the writer and Lauren the person?   Nope.  That’s it… nope.  What you see is what you get!

What about Lauren the person versus Lauren the public figure?  Is there a difference there I try really hard to be the same person no matter what.  I try really hard to stay positive and encourage others.  It’s too much work for me to try to be a bunch of people.  It’s enough work just to be me.

What other writing have you done?  I have written curriculum for grades 4-12 and for adult learners.  Let me tell you… fiction is LOTS more fun.

What is the best and worst part of the writing process for you?  I love the writing so much.  Going over my work with my editing team is okay.  I love them dearly but the writing itself is magical.  I also love bouncing ideas off my kids, their friends and my students.  I want to make sure that Owen and my other teen characters have the right voice.

Do you plot your novels (or plan your books) ahead of time, or do they unfold as you write them?  Both!  Visions began with very little planning; I just let it flow.  Once I was past the first book I couldn’t do it without the big picture.  I even put notes to myself highlighted within my writing so that I don’t lose track of time.

How do you go about creating dialogue?  I write from my characters head.  I imagine what they would say to another character.  When one of my boys or their friends says something I really like, I ask if I can use it and then I weave it in.  “Don’t flip a biscuit” is a phrase that my younger son used on me one day when he thought I was overreacting, so I had to reuse that.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters or do any of them have traits you wish you had?  I wish I was as brave as Owen and Lucie are.  I wish I was as smart as Marlo.  The characters that I am most like are Owen’s mom Lila and his friend Sarah.  Sarah was originally crafted after a dear friend of mine who was a grandma and Boy Scout volunteer while I was working with the Scouts for my own boys.  She had such a wonderful way of looking at the world.  I asked her if I could use her and she said yes.  Now Sarah is more like me because my model has moved to the coast and we don’t see each other as often.  The story also changed and I needed to make her a little younger than we had first intended.

Do you believe writers are born…or made?  I believe the best ones are born but I would never count out someone who wanted it so badly that they were willing to really work for it.  Right now, my writing isn’t work – it is my passion.  Life makes us who we are but we still somehow come into it with preferences.  I don’t think you can force writing to make you happy.

What genres do you read mostly and what are you reading now?  I am reading Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg’s The Heist and I am rereading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.  Why such fluffy stuff?  One, I love it and two, it gives me a break from heavy stuff like Learning in Adulthood and Learning and Change in the Adult Years.

Do you have any advice for those toying with the idea of becoming a novelist/writer?  Keep your day job but heck yeah, give it a go!  You may find you love it.  At least get that story down – it’s good therapy!

How many hours a week do you work these days?  At which job?  Ha!  It is all over the map.  I am a substitute teacher and I work for an organization that helps improve out-of-school time education.   Around my teaching of students and training of adults who work with students, I write.  Between them all I probably put in around seventy hours a week.

It’s been suggested that as a group, writers tend to be elitists.  Do you agree with this assertion?  You find elitists in every group, not just among writers.  So yeah, there are some but I’m not one and I know you aren’t so there you go.  It’s not just the two of us either.  I have met some of the most wonderful, charitable, helpful and friendly people since I started writing that I can’t imagine my life without them.  We are team indie and we are what we make of it!

What is your view of brand management?  Is this a positive or negative aspect of an author’s work and is this something you’re personally comfortable with?  I feel like it is very important to maintain your brand, to stay true to who you are.  I try to keep my work and sites no more than NC-17.  I never write anything that would embarrass me if my parents, children or students read it.  I try to remain true to myself.  I’ve made some mistakes along the way but each day is a new chance to do better, right?

Is there anything you’d like to add before we conclude this interview?  Big hugs, Danica, and thank you so very much for having me.  Happy writing to you and to you and all your fans… follow your dreams, you never know where they may lead you.

The pleasure was all mine, Lauren.  Thanks for dropping by today!


Author, Lauren Lynne

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Where to Visit Young Adult Author Lauren Lynne and The Secret Watchers Series:

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Danica Cornell

Danica Cornell is the President of Mano Nanotechnologies, Inc., who’s busily penning her forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books.  To learn more, please visit Danica’s website at


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Danica Cornell is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club and the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network.

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Deconstructing My Writing Process

By Danica Cornell

Many thanks to my dear friend, Enn Kae, (a.k.a. @zeekworldnet on Twitter) for inviting me to share what goes on behind the scenes in my creation of the  DARK STAR sci-fi/fantasy series.  I’ve decided to use this unique Q & A opportunity to describe step-by-step, how it is that I go about writing a novel.  And while I’m aware many authors undoubtedly dive in and immediately begin their manuscripts, I’ve learned that in my case, a lot more structure is required.  🙂

How do I start my writing projects?

1.  The Spark

For me, every major writing project begins the same way – from a spark of an idea that sets my imagination ablaze!  These “sparks” can come from anywhere:  Movies, news stories, books, billboards, songs—the list is practically endless!

2.  The Think Tank

Once I’ve settled on a story idea, I make a point to write down everything that comes to mind.  In other words, the Think Tank step is basically a non-linear, highly chaotic, stream-of-consciousness, brainstorming exercise designed to generate additional ideas and research questions.  All I can say is, it definitely works!

3.  The Master Organizer 

Thankfully, coming up with sci-fi story ideas, (including characters and sexy, futuristic technologies) has not been an issue for me.  I mean, not at all.  Instead, my challenge has always has been in finding ways to sort through and organize all of my Think Tank material.  Fortunately, I’ve learned to accomplish this task by separating all of a story’s related ideas into the following five categories:  Story, Story World, Technologies, Characters, and Research.  The story’s title is used to create a folder which houses all of these five items.

4.  Playing God by Building My Story World

Once my materials have been organized, I set out to create my story world.  This is accomplished by imagining the time and place my story will occur (i.e. the month, year, geographical location, weather, etc.).  I also consider the different cultural groups within this world, (i.e. wealthy, impoverished, those with top-secret security clearances, alien species, etc.).  With my story world in focus, it’s a lot easier for me to see the backdrop for conflict as well as the story’s theme.

5.  The One Sentence Summary/Storyline

Now that my story world has been formalized, I set about the task of writing a one sentence storyline/summary, which serves as the foundation for keeping my ideas in check.  (I cannot over emphasize how important this step is for my uber-creative brain!)

6.  The One Paragraph Three-Act Structure

Looking at my one sentence summary and Story file, I begin to loosely map out my tale by way of the three-act structure.  The result of this exercise is one paragraph, briefly describing my story’s three disasters:  The call to action, the disaster to support the middle, and the final disaster to force the story’s end.

7.  Character Creation

Referring to my Characters folder and three-act structure, this is when I start bringing my major characters to life.  The beginnings of this process are admittedly humble and include naming each character and defining their role (i.e. villain, hero, etc.), ambition, story goal, conflict, lesson learned or change in character.  Afterwards, I’m able to craft a character summary.  Even as a beginning writer, I’ve come to realize I’ve already had a lot of these points figured out ahead of time.  So far, this step has merely helped to crystallize my ideas.

8.  The Short Synopsis

At this point, I construct a short synopsis, (approximately one page in length, maybe two) using the one paragraph, three-act structure as a scaffold.

9.  Character Expansion

Armed with a clearer vision for my story, I now set about the task of expanding my characters by way of character sketches.  This is where I fill in the blanks with regard to each character’s backstory, ambition, story goal, conflict, lesson learned or change in character, and character summary.  This is also my favorite step in the planning process, no doubt because of my background in psychology!

10.  The Long Synopsis

For me, the long synopsis is the most challenging step of all!  Moreover, since its function is to capture high-level details, I strive to keep the long synopsis to roughly five to six pages in length, going back and forth between characters and plot.  Also, if I haven’t already started my research (often related to advanced technologies), this is definitely the time I’ll buckle down and get serious about gathering any necessary facts and figures.

11.  The Character Bible

A couple of days later, (after I’ve calmed down from the long synopsis!), my next step in the planning process is to create a character bible from all the information I’ve assembled.  This will include everything from each character’s date of birth, middle name, physical description, education and work history, any disabilities, their greatest fears, dreams and hopes, as well as their history (backstory).  Many of these ideas have already been generated as part of the character expansion, so I simply transfer this information and fill in any remaining blanks.  

I should probably mention, the reason I take the time to create a character bible, is to help insure my characters come off as conflicted and flawed.  I’m specifically looking to create characters with competing values and ambitions.  There must be a reasonable dose of intra- and interpersonal conflicts, otherwise the characters will emerge as flat, boring, and frankly, unbelievable. Furthermore, if any character doesn’t meet my rigorous sniff-test, I go back to the drawing board–and will keep doing so, until I get them just exactly right.

12.  The Scene List

Next, using my long synopsis, I focus on generating a scene list—what I consider to be the second most challenging step in the entire planning process.  The scene list is basically a simple outline of how the story is planned to unfold.  (Generally, there’s a scene containing a goal, a conflict, and a setback.  This is then followed with a scene containing a reaction, a dilemma, and a decision.)  Additionally, this is also when I finalize my decision regarding what point of view I’m going to use.

13.  Scene Analysis

Before beginning my manuscript, I analyze each scene to make sure I have a goal, a conflict, and a setback followed by a reaction, a dilemma, and a decision.  Additionally, I’ll once again look at my three disasters, to be certain they are doing what they’re supposed to (call to action, support the middle, force the story’s end).  This may result in some rearranging, but I’ve learned the hard way, this step can save me a lot of time later on!

How do I continue my writing process?

Thus far, I’ve been editing as I’ve been writing.  And while this may not be the preferred method for many, as a beginning novelist, this approach has helped me to refine my voice through a lot of experimentation.  It’s also taken me about four times longer to wrap up this project than it normally would’ve, I’m sure!  But in all honesty, I’m okay with this. Why?  Because for me, learning the writing process and putting out a quality product are the only two things that matter.  Everything else is secondary.

How do I finish my writing projects?

Before I reach the point of being psychologically ready to hand my manuscript over to an editor, (and/or beta readers) I need to be certain my manuscript is in the very best shape I’m able to attain on my own.  To reach this point, I carefully scrutinize my story, using a detailed checklist I’ve created.  (As of this writing, accidental head-hopping is my number one writing boo-boo.)

Include one challenge or additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.

Before I sign off, I’d like to share with you the following time-saving list of transitions. By the way, I keep this list on my desk at all times and use it quite often!  And for those of you who may be new to writing, transitional words and phrases allow writers to express different ideas in ways which are clear to readers.   Okay, so here it is, as promised:

Danica Cornell’s List of Transitional Words and Phrases

 Showing continuation:

  • Again
  • Also
  • And
  • Besides
  • Furthermore
  • In addition
  • Moreover
  • Coincidentally
  • Next
  • Undoubtedly

Showing contrast:

  • Although
  • And yet
  • But
  • Even so
  • However
  • Nevertheless
  • Nonetheless
  • Notwithstanding
  • Still
  • Though
  • Whereas

Showing illustration:

  • For example
  • For instance
  • Likewise
  • Second
  • Similarly
  • First
  • In the same way
  • To illustrate
  • Third

Showing conclusion:

  • All in all
  • In brief
  • In conclusion
  • In summary
  • Therefore
  • To summarize
  • What this means is
  • Finally
  • Thus so
  • As a result

For those of you who have additional helpful writing tips/techniques, I hope you’ll feel comfortable sharing these here, so we may all benefit from your knowledge and experience.  Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my post, and I hope to see you again real soon!

Until next time…

Happy writing,



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Danica Cornell holds a BA in Psychology from Argosy University.  She is the visionary president of Mano Nanotechnologies, Inc., who is busily penning the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books.  To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at







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Danica Cornell is proud to be a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and the Fantasy Science Fiction Network 

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