Deliah (“Dee”) Lawrence is a Maryland-based attorney, author, blogger and romance workshop facilitator who writes romantic suspense novels as well as poetry and short stories. Her debut novel, Gotta Let It Go, set in Baltimore, won the 2011 Finalist Next Generation Indie Book Award in the multi-cultural fiction category. Dee’s short stories have been featured in the Creatures, Crimes and Creativity 2013, 2014, and 2018 anthologies.
When Dee isn’t writing, you can find her reading a book, indulging in her addiction to investigation discovery shows or painting her yet-to-be exhibited oil artworks of landscapes, portraits or whatever else comes to her creative mind. Constantly on the go, Dee is also an active member of the Maryland Writers’ Association, Black Writers’ Guild of Maryland, Sisters in Crime and Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. And most recently, Joel Furches (reviewer, CBS Baltimore) named Dee as one of five Baltimore authors to put on readers 2018 summer reading list.
She recently released Gotta Get It Back, the sequel to her first book and is currently working on the third installment titled, Gotta Have It All.
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Certainly, thanks for having me. I appreciate this opportunity. I have always been in love with words, reading and writing for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I day dreamed a lot and created stories for my friends to enjoy. When they kept asking me for more stories that’s when I knew writing was what I was called to do. Being a writer, I love the freedom to express myself and to flex my imagination in creating a world filled with interesting characters and intriguing storylines that will captivate my readers. On the flip side, what frustrates me the most is having a swirl of ideas while staring at a blank piece of paper or a blank screen trying to find the perfect way to start.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
Sure, I write romantic suspense novels about sexy, sassy, and smart female protagonists caught up in deadly situations while navigating romantic relationships with complicated lovers. To find out more about me, my books, and upcoming events readers can visit my website at www.authordeelawrence.com. They can also follow me on Twitter (@authordlawrence), Facebook (@authordeelawrence), and on Instagram (@authordeelawrence).
3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?
I draw my inspiration from a wide range of sources: people watching, personal experiences, current events, movies, etc. This gives me countless possibilities to create stories filled with many twists and turns as well as interesting and believable characters.
4) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel? What projects are you currently working on?
Ideally, I should write everyday but I don’t. However, I try to maximize my writing time on the weekends. I typically generate ideas for the types of stories I’m going to write and then have a general outline that allows me the fluidity of making my characters take me where they want to go. Given my hectic work schedule, it takes me about two years from writing my novel to the time it gets published. As for right now, I’m working on Gotta Have It All, the third installment of my Deidre Hunter romantic suspense series (Gotta Let It Go, Book #1; Gotta Get It Back, Book #2) set in Baltimore, MD. I’m really excited about this new project because I’m anxious to see what drama my characters will get into.
5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally? Who is your favorite author to read? What book are you currently reading?
I’m an avid reader who reads across various genres. But I have to say when I read, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou who also happens to be one of my favorite authors to read, I was hooked. She definitely knew how to weave an emotional tale that spanned the depths of her worldly experiences.
6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Great question! I would have to say my most significant achievement has been winning a finalist award in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (multicultural fiction category) for my first romantic suspense novel. It validated and boosted my creative writing efforts. Since then, I’ve won other awards and built up my fan base of eager readers including my mom (#1 fan) who can’t wait to see what my characters do next. Their support is invaluable to me. Over the next five years, I hope to continue churning out more novels, creating various online writing courses, and doing more speaking engagements.
7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What is your advice for other writers to better be able to cope or navigate their way through the publishing process, be it traditional or self-publishing?
Oh absolutely! Although I’m an Indie writer I didn’t have to worry about being rejected by a traditional publishing house. However, I’ve had my share of rejections especially when entering writing contests. When this happens, I wouldn’t dwell too long on the rejection. Instead, I would go back to see what I could do to strengthen the storyline, character’s motivations, etc. and resubmit to other contests. So, my advice to other writers is that they should look at rejection as a learning experience and then get back to strengthening their craft and polishing their work.
8) Do you find it hard to juggle the creative side of being a writer against the business side of being a writer, in terms of marketing and promotion and things of that nature? How hard has it been (or easy) for you to build up your author platform?
I think it all comes down to finding the sweet spot of balancing both the creative and the business sides of being a writer. At first, navigating the marketing landscape seemed so unwieldy until I paired it down to three platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). Also, I began to streamline my social media messages by using HootSuite, a social media management platform. This made it so much easier for me to consistently market and promote my work leaving me time to be creative.
9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work. Do you ever enjoy reading your own work back to yourself after it’s out there for the rest of the world?
I enjoy reading my own work because I get yet another chance to hang out with my characters when the book is published. Interestingly, they still have so much to say about what they want to do next. LOL!
10) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
No, I don’t believe this to be true because success comes to those who take the first step to write and consistently improve their craft regardless of when they embark on their writing journey. While success may be slow to come it shouldn’t stop them from striving to achieve one writing goal after another. It’s all about having that special something that folks are looking for that resonates with the right market at the right time.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I totally agree that writing is a remarkable vehicle to express oneself. It’s like someone handing me a canvas, different size brushes and a palette of colors allowing me to paint whatever picture I want. I can step into the shoes of the protagonist or the antagonist and be as nice or as naughty as I want to be. I can push boundaries and not fear any repercussions or consequences except on the pages of my novels. The possibilities are endless as I create storylines allowing my readers a means of escaping reality one book at a time. This ignites my passion for creative writing!