Monday, July 25, 2011

Welcome to Lani Diane Rich

A few years back, one of my goddess author idols Jennifer Crusie began blogging about a book named Dogs and Goddesses that she was writing with Anne Stuart and someone I wasn't familiar with named Lani Diane Rich.  When Jenny writes about the writing process, it's not only informative, but it's darned near almost as entertaining as her books.  I was also already a big fan of Anne Stuart and I figured if this Lani woman was writing with them, she sure couldn't be a slouch.  Plus, getting to know her a little through Jenny's blog, she sounded smart and funny.  So, I bought some of her books  - Wish You Were Here and Crazy in Love - and became a fan.  Some time later, Lani created a blog called A Year and Change under her pseudonym Lucy March.  I was drawn to her gut-wrenching honesty and the story of where her life had been, where she was, and where she hoped to go.  So were many really remarkable women and somewhere along the line we all became Betties.

Okay, that's enough backstory.  Like many wonderful authors, Lani has regained rights to some of her books and made them available electronically.  Plus she has a new book (as Lucy) coming out in January 2012.  I think Lani's a terrific writer and teacher, and one hell of a woman, so I asked if she'd let me interview her for the blog.  I'm delighted she agreed.  Without further delay, here goes!

Me: You describe your books as Funny Women’s Fiction. Could you explain for us how women’s fiction differs from romance and why this genre appeals to you as a writer?

Lani: From a genre perspective, romance is focused on the relationship, and women's fiction is focused on the protagonist's journey. When I say I write "funny women's fiction," I see all my books under that umbrella, because they're all funny books that appeal to women. I know that writers who write for women tend to get less respect, but I don't really care. I don't need respect. I like writing stories about women who transform their lives through adventure, love, adversity, and I'm damn lucky that I get to do it.

MS: I personally believe that, in every book, an author wants to explore something with her story. What did you want to explore or investigate in each of these books?

LDR: It's funny, because every book I've written, I've had one goal I wanted to achieve. With The Fortune Quilt, I wanted to write a story about a woman whose entire life falls apart. I wanted to walk her through that process of rebuilding, redefining what's important and figuring out what she really wants. With A Little Ray of Sunshine, I wanted to write something intensely emotional, to pull out all the stops and not shy away from that vulnerable space. Both books were an adventure to write!

MS: You started, and completed, a blog you called A Year and Change in which you were brutally and refreshingly honest about your life. Do you think the process ended up being more about self-transformation? What’s the best thing you learned in the journey?

LDR: 516 days, blogging (almost) every day, counting down to my 40th birthday. Sounds crazy, huh? It was intense, definitely, charting the course of my divorce, wading through the mess that was my sense of myself, and even - to my great surprise - falling in love again, all in this very public space. That process was very much about transformation. When I go back and read those early posts, I'm amazed at how many things I struggled with all my life that are simply gone now. Everything hasn't been fixed - I still have a tendency to stress out and imagine that everything in the world is my responsibility - but I'm so much more at peace now than I have ever been. I think the best thing I learned on that journey was that it's not just okay to be vulnerable and brutally honest, but necessary. Had I not confessed everything in that blog, I don't think I would have healed the way I did, and I definitely wouldn't have been ready for my new marriage, which is one of the greatest joys of my life. That blog, and the community that formed there, has been one of the biggest blessings of my life, and it taught me how to be truly honest, not just with others, but with myself.

MS: When you read a book, what sparks the “Wow, this is terrific” reaction for you?

LDR: Different things. Sometimes it's the author's sense of humor, sometimes it's her sense of adventure. In my classes, I teach that there is an innate magic to every author, and that the one thing you can bring to the page that no one else can is you. I think it relates back to what made my blog such a heady experience; there are certain things that are just you, and even if every story has been told a thousand times before, it's never been told quite this way. When an author relaxes and trusts that her unique voice matters, a book becomes fresh and exciting. Craft is important, getting the technical stuff down so it doesn't get in the way is essential, but nothing beats an author's own magic. That's what authors need to honor in their writing, and when they do, it's truly magical.

MS: You’ve started a new journey in your own writing career with the name switch to Lucy March. How is A Little Night Magic different from your Lani Diane Rich books? What about it will still connect with your current Lani fans?

LDR: A Little Night Magic was my attempt at writing a bigger story. I'm really enjoying adventure and magic and bigger themes. What happens when an ordinary woman is called upon to save the people she loves from death and catastrophe? That was fun to play with. It's different from the Lani Diane Rich books in that the magic is outright and manifest; this is a different world from ours. But I still wanted to hit all those notes that I loved hitting with the Lani Diane Rich books - humor mixed with strong emotion, tears and laughter. That savory-sweet combination has always been a lot of fun for me, and I don't think I could write a book without that.

MS: You’re also embarking on a “re-publishing” venture with the rerelease of Little Ray of Sunshine and Fortune Quilt. How did you reach this decision and what do you think about the whole e-pub/self-pub movement that’s going on?

LDR: NAL was kind enough to give me my rights back, and I decided to jump in. I love those books, passionately, but now they're older and out of print and that bums me out. They're great books. I know that sounds arrogant, but I don't care. Everyone should love their own writing. In my classes, I make everyone end every class by saying, "I'm a great writer." I think it's important. I love my writing and I love these books and I'm so grateful that I'm living in a moment when I have the opportunity to help these books find new readers.

The new revolution in e-publishing is fascinating to me. I love that authors are able to take their work and make it available. I love watching this whole new world unfold before me. I'm still in traditional publishing because I have the best editor in the whole world, and she makes me a better writer. I think it's important to do your best work, make sure it's good and that you give the reader the best possible experience; I don't think it's important that you publish with New York. I love that authors have new options out there. It's wonderful.

MS: What else is on the horizon for Lani/Lucy?

LDR: Right now, I'm podcasting every day with my husband over at It's a free podcast for writers, with some instruction, some chit-chat, lots of wonky stuff like etymology and vocabulary and writing challenges. I'm also teaching classes at Storywonk; I'm really looking forward to my Magic and Discovery classes coming up in September and October, to help people gear up for Nanowrimo. In addition, we're just now launching an editorial service for people who are self-publishing; covers, editorial, back cover copy, conversion. We had a great time doing my titles, and it's fun. I'm also working on the next Lucy March book, and I have a few other side projects in the hopper.

Mostly, I'm having fun, and I'm incredibly blessed. It's a good life.

MS: Any final words/thoughts to share?

LDR: Just to thank you for having me here. Such wonderful questions, and such great discussion. Mary Stella, you are a gem. Thanks!

Lani, thanks so much for taking part in this blog interview, for creating the Bettyverse, for being an enthusiastic and helpful teacher and for being all around terrific.   Let's make it easy for everyone to find you and your books with some helpful links!
Little Ray of Sunshine   The Fortune Quilt  A Little Night Magic (w/a Lucy March)
Find Lani/Lucy online at and The Bettyverse!

Special Announcement!

Head over to the Bettyverse!  To celebrate her book launch, Lani's running a contest.  Help us build and move the buzz!  Click here for the Bettyverse.


Anonymous said...

Great interview Mary Stella. And Alpha was fabulous as always.

Nan said...

Super interview, Mary Stella! Love your questions and Lani is always erudite and enjoyable! The Bettyverse is a wonderful community! Just ordered her books from Amazon!

Thanks for the interview...

KarenB said...

Great interview, Mary and Lani! If I didn't already get your books, this would send me off to start clicking!

Robena Grant said...

Fabulous interview, Mary. The questions and answers were great.
And I think I said it at Bettyverse, I loved your story Sea of Key. Wrote a short review on Amazon.

lora96 said...

Fabulous interview, Mary!

Mary Ricksen said...

Enjoyed the interview Mary! Lani is an interesting person. The way she handles life is admirable. Gotta try one of her stories. If you say she's good, she's tops!
Hope to see you soon!!

Mary Stella said...

Many thanks to everyone for stopping by today. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

Robena, thanks so much for the review of my book! I saw it up there a little earlier today!

bonafidebetty said...

Great interview, Mary Stella! Plus, it was awesome to see the cover for A Little Night Magic.

bonafidebetty said...

Great interview, Mary Stella! Plus, it was awesome to see the cover for A Little Night Magic.