Friday, January 4, 2013

Fiery Friday - Tiana Laveen

Welcome to Fiery Friday!

My very first guest for the Fiery Friday feature is Tiana Laveen. Tiana Laveen is a uniquely creative and innovative author whose romance fiction is geared towards those who not only want to temporarily escape from the daily routines of life, but also delve into social taboo as it pertains to interracial relationships. Tiana creates a painting with words as she guides her reader into the lives of each and every main character.

Welcome, Tiana. I'm glad to have you as my first Fiery Friday featured author! So tell me, What do you feel is critical to developing a novel that will glue the reader’s ebook device in their hands until the last page?

I have found that the old adage is true. You have to start with an engaging first few pages. Of course there needs to be background and some of the more tedious details in the piece as well, but if at all possible, avoid doing that on the first 1-3 pages. Throw the audience in the middle of something and it doesn’t necessarily need to be an action scene, but it needs to be something that pulls on the emotions or opens a window into what is to come. It could even be a comical scene, but the point is, it needs to be attention grabbing and engaging.

Women relate to women and, more often than not, we’re left shaking our heads at men. As a woman, how do you write your male characters in their point of view and make them the hot alpha heroes us romance readers fall in love with?

This is the interesting thing because I prefer to write from the male voice. I have always been more comfortable in that format, I feel I can relate better to that even though I’m obviously a woman. I think in part, it is because I have always had mostly men as friends, and there is just an understanding there so when I write from the male POV, I look at it as ME – just my alter ego, because that is how I really feel. I understand men, more than I understand myself sometimes, lol – so it isn’t a labor or difficult for me to do. If I were a man and had a ‘wish list’, I’d want to be an alpha. I get ‘into character’ and go from there.

Why romance? Do you believe it exists in the real world?

Yes, I do and romance chose me, I didn’t chose it. I was writing and soon discovered that about 75% of my poems and stories were romance driven. It just happened. It wasn’t a conscious decision.

What is your idea of the perfect hero? Heroine?

I don’t really think there is a perfect hero or heroine because I believe each one should be treated differently. Now, there are some people that want the same type of hero and heroine in each piece they write and/or read, and that is simply a matter of preference. I’d say my only consistency is that I don’t like there to be lack of growth in a character. Not all characters change or grow the way we may want them too, or the reader wants them to, but there needs to be something in them that has evolved. For me personally, that is paramount. I have no desire to see tough cookie heroines all the time from start to finish and hero’s that don’t care about anything and only think about how to use someone. I think you can have an alpha that is hard-lined and edgy, without making him unlikable and you can have a strong woman/heroine, that cries and gets weak sometimes. I like her to be a ‘real woman’ in that regard. No, she doesn’t have to be whiny and weak throughout the book, but hell, things happen! I’m not into ‘Superhero/heroines’ as far as from the start to finish. If they are that way in the end, awesome, but I need more dimension than that. I know the novels are often times for escapism, but to me, that is the semblance of reality that I need. The characters need to be identifiable and tangible. No one grows into adulthood without shedding a tear or two over a romantic situation that left them twisted...

If you had access to a time machine, what year would you travel to and why?

1978 or 1979. I absolutely love the 70s, especially in an urban environment and I believe that I was simply ‘meant to be there’. It is a time when people respected each other more, there was still a sense of respect for one another. Crack cocaine had not hit the scene, destroying families, etc. There was cultural awareness without trying to tear another group down as much. I love the freedom, the clothing, the music, the d├ęcor – and I hope that when I die, I’m allowed to ‘be there’ as a young adult in some other dimension, enjoying myself to the fullest.

If you could have dinner with any three people in the world, who would they be and why?

Hmmm, well, you didn’t say living or deceased, so I’ll answer both, lol. Zora Neale Hurston – she is my favorite author. She was innovative and terribly misunderstood as a writer. I’d want to interview her. I like that she wrote things that weren’t popular at that time, but didn’t care – she wrote from the heart, not for reviews, praise etc. I look up to her for that. My grandfather (deceased) He was an editor and civil rights leader and one of my favorite people. He was a black man that loved to write and read – it was in my blood and I’d love to have one more chat with him. As far as living people, I’d say Queen Latifah – I look at her as a Renaissance woman and pioneer. She is multi-talented and seems like a ‘good person’ and I tend to gravitate towards positive people, especially people I can learn from.

Who is you favorite character that you’ve created and why?

Saint Aknaten. He is dynamic, loud, obnoxious, funny but strong, sexy and smart – and I love that combination. And...he practically wrote his own books. I didn’t have to do much, he took care of everything, lol.

You wake up one morning and realize you’re suddenly a kid again, but you remember everything about being an adult. What advice would you give yourself?

Oh boy, several things! First, take your time with love and things aren’t as bad as they seem. Focus on what you love, and try your best, to be the best you can be at it. Don’t waste your time on people who really don’t care about you nor wish you the best in life, you’re worth more than that.

Did you have a predetermined plan when you began your writing career and, if so, has that plan changed since your books have been released?

I’ve written since I was a tiny little girl, and ironically, I’ve been writing erotica since I was in the fifth grade, as perverted as that may sound, lol. I wrote all sorts of things, but for some odd reason, I had a strange preoccupation with topics that a child wasn’t ‘supposed’ to be thinking about. All of this stayed in my mind, however – I wasn’t ‘acting out’ but I lived in a fantasy land so I always knew I’d love to be a published author, but I didn’t think that would ever happen. I actually went to college for marketing, and got my BA in business communication. I have a certification for Human Sexuality, however, lol – and it proved to be helpful when I write. None of it was planned – I simply had a friend who was published, we were talking on facebook, one thing led to another and here I am. Now that it is happening however, I know that this is what I was always supposed to be doing. Before hand, I had notebooks, boxes and then my computer – chock full of stories, and some full length books. Now, I can share them with the public.

Aspiring authors are always eager to hear advice. What would you say to them?

It is important to do your research regarding the business end of this. I thought I was business savvy, well I am as it pertains to corporate America but to the writing world? Not so much. I had a baptism by fire. Some rather unsavory things happened that gave me a woke up call and I now know but here is my general rule(s) of thumb:

1. Get an editor. Yes, friends and relatives that are ‘great at English/grammar’ are a plus, for a second set of eyes, but it is imperative that someone with a trained eye for also content issues (duplicity, etc.) have your manuscript before it is submitted anywhere. You’d be surprised what will be found that we as the author, completely overlooked and it could make an otherwise good piece of work sink like quicksand, without the help. With that said though, keep the storyline you want to keep – fight for it if you have too. If you’re adamant about something, don’t be bulldozed but a great editor is key to polishing your piece and weeding at some things that make it less enjoyable for a reader. My first novels didn’t have that and though I still believe they are good pieces, if I had had an editor, I could have avoided a few pitfalls. NOTE: I did get an editor for my third novel and beyond, but had to go through many before I had found the right fit. Even professional editors many times have editors, so that should tell some writers that it truly is a necessity.

2. You have to be dedicated. This cannot be something you do one or two hours a week. There is not a day that goes by that I’m not writing, researching for a WIP I am writing or thinking about how to work out a difficult scene. I have two small children and a husband as well as other obligations, but I still know it has to be done and more importantly, I WANT to do it. Talent without drive stays in park.

3. There will be people who want you to fail. Accept it, it comes with the territory. If you’re feelings are hurt easily – then get ready to lose your mind. There are trolls, negative writers who become jealous of other’s success and scan the web to slam people (may sound silly, but it is true, albeit pathetic) and simply people that are ‘hard’ readers who will say things about your novel, some of which may be true, but their delivery is acidic and has fangs. It isn’t meant to actually help you, it is created to hurt you – don’t let it. Keep in mind, they don’t know you personally (usually) – and it isn’t about YOU, it is about your book and the responses and emotions that it has fueled. There is a difference from this, and what I like to call, ‘positive criticism’ which actually is written or said to you, to aid you as an author. Every single one of us need to be told how to improve or we will be slower to develop but as far as the ‘impure motive group’, don’t give them the time of day. Don’t respond to the foolishness if you happen to see it – it just spurs them on and you end up looking like someone that can’t take the heat – when all you may have been doing was trying to explain or correct false information. Don’t do it – that’s what they want. Don’t let anyone stop you from honing your craft and doing what you love because people will try, especially if you get any sort of positive praise. It’s not a matter of IF it happens, it is a matter of WHEN and at the end of the day, you write because you LOVE it – remember that.

Now for the hot stuff :)
What’s your favorite sexual position? Many of them, I have no specific favorite but I do like face to face contact to write about it as well as experience. The intimacy level for this is off the charts.

Have you ever had to step away from the computer for some much needed air during or after an erotic scene? Yes, yes and yes!

What’s inside the drawer of your nightstand? (If you don’t have a nightstand, what would be in your drawer?) Oh  There are flavor water packets, some of my books (I sometimes need to go back and re-read something for a sequel), scissors, lip gloss, a bunch of old receipts that need to be thrown out, salt and pepper (yes, I sometimes eat in bed, lol) a bullet (yeah...the sexual kind), a dirty sex card game and odds and ends that no one gives a damn about.

What’s the sexiest thing you’ve done in the name of research? Interview a male porn star.

Does size really matter? Yes, but it is not everything. Girth is more important than length but even more important than that – if he doesn’t know how to ‘use it’, it doesn’t matter if he has 8 or 9 inches and it’s wide as a doorknob, it will not be pleasurable.

Thanks Tiana!

Readers, check out this book trailer for Tiana Laveen's book The Naughty Sins of a Saint

Dr. Saint Aknaten is anything but ordinary. From his unique ethnic makeup, the product of a North Korean mother and Egyptian father, to his career as a sex therapist and public speaker, his life is filled with excitement, tragedy, oddities, and lust-filled company. He hails from New York City, but his influence doesn’t stop there. Saint is internationally known. Toggling between holistic ideologies and gritty X-rated teachings, he captures male audiences everywhere as he preaches his controversial, racially driven philosophy – that all non-Black men should pursue Black women. Regardless of his magnetic ability to attract droves of women wherever he steps foot, Saint is desperately on the hunt for just one whom he has pet-named his “goddess.” His search comes to an unanticipated end as he conducts an interview with the outspoken and beautiful radio personality, Xenia Donnellson, an air-waves sensation from Los Angeles. Making Xenia see things his way becomes a challenge that he is more than willing to accept. Xenia succumbs to the hypnotic charms of Saint’s addictive essence, but not without invisible nemeses hanging in the wind, waiting for a chance to strike. Saint will do anything and everything to protect his “queen” including confronting his suppressed fear that he possesses unwanted psychic abilities. Can Saint overcome all and finally obtain the peace he has long sought after? Only time will tell.

“Just when I think you can’t get any weirder.” Xenia laughed as she looked away.
“This tattoo on my back has multiple meanings,” Saint said. “She represents my guardian angel. The chakras running up and down her body represent my sixth sense, my spirituality, and my calling. On the flip side she represents my ‘goddess,’ our connection and love for one another. She’s illustrated on my back, and her placement is perfectly in line with my heart. That means she always has my back, is always in my heart, and I’ll protect her no matter what. She’s you.”
Xenia looked at Saint, feeling his sincerity fill the room.
“You’re dead serious,” she finally said as she shook her head in disbelief. “Either you really are crazy, or you’re telling the truth. I’m not certain which just yet.” Saint took her hand and placed it on his heart. Xenia closed her eyes and smiled as she felt it beating under his warm skin.
“You have to give me permission,” he said. “I’ve never attempted this with anyone else, but I want to try.”
“What? What are you talking about?” Xenia asked softly.
“Keep your hand on my heart. Concentrate. I’m going to put my hand over your heart, too. Ask me a question that you know I wouldn’t know the answer to,” he said.
Xenia laughed. “Come on, Saint. This is silly!”
“Please try,” Saint urged. “Think of your question, and think of the answer very clearly in your mind.”
Xenia exhaled, “Well, OK.” She thought for a moment. “OK, I have it.”
Saint nodded, “Slow your breathing. Be as calm as you can, then ask me.”
He waited as Xenia closed her eyes and concentrated.
“I’m ready,” she said. “When I was six years old, I had a favorite – something. My mother would try to make me leave it at home, and I’d cry and have a fit if she took it away. What was it?”
Saint closed his eyes and held her hand harder to his chest while he kept his palm over her heart. Xenia watched as his eyes moved rapidly under their lids.
“It was a yellowish, maybe a light-orange, teddy bear with one blue eye and one black button sewn for the other because the other had fallen off and was never found again. Your grandmother had given it to you a couple years before she died unexpectedly, so you became more attached to the teddy bear after her passing. You didn’t understand death, but the teddy bear gave you comfort. You named her ‘Pumpkin.’”
Xenia gasped, snatching her hand away. She put her hand over her mouth as tears welled up in her eyes. “Oh, my God, it’s true! What you said is true. How did you do that?”
Saint carefully reached over to her face and wiped her tears. “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.”
“Saint I don’t know how to feel about you,” Xenia said.
“I didn’t mean to scare you.” He took her hand and held it. “I was just trying to show you that I’m for real. This isn’t a game to me. This is my life, this is your life. I wasn’t even sure I could do it. I just felt that I probably could. For all I know, I may only be able to do it with you. I have no idea. I usually just get a feeling. I don’t need to touch anyone or have them touch me. Unless it’s a dream, it isn’t as detailed as what we just experienced. The power of touch and your having an open mind helped me do it.”
“I honestly didn’t think you’d know.”
“Yes, but a part of you wanted me to know, and that helped,” Saint explained. “You wanted me to be right.” He leaned close to her face, rubbing his nose playfully against her cheek as he caressed her chin. Saint lowered his mouth to the side of her neck, gently sucking as he wrapped his arm around her stomach. He finished off with a soft peck. “Just relax for a minute. I’ll order us something to eat. Do you like eggs and turkey sausage?”
‘Mount – mate – afterglow – she’s mine,’ he thought.
Xenia nodded. She sighed weakly, “You’re a sadist, Saint. You wore me out.” She smiled happily into her pillow as she relived the carnal lovemaking in her mind before falling back to sleep. Saint grinned, patted her back, then picked up the hotel phone and called for room service...

And don't miss book 2 of the series When Saint Goes Marching In  

It is six years later and Saint and Xenia have two beautiful sons and are enjoying their lives in sunny California. Having started a new leg of his career, Saint takes on innovative responsibilities, relishing the excitement of his job—from wealthy Rainbeau men hiring him for sexual assistance with their wives, to planning to snare a prolific, insane, and hate-filled killer on the loose. Still doing conferences, Saint is distracted by recent harassment and tortures that target Rainbeau men and their spouses in a small town in Missouri. Asked by the White Knights of the Round Table to assist in the troubling case, Saint uses his mental agility and psychic abilities to help capture the man responsible and bring him to justice. Just when he thinks the drama is over, another predicament arises in the form of Saint’s sultry ex-girlfriend who has an axe to grind. She is a blast from his past but she won’t disappear without wreaking havoc. As their lives unfold, revenge is served to Saint in a manner that is of nightmarish proportions, demolishing his personal life irreparably. Saint is forced into a new life that becomes an emotional roller coaster as he chases a serial killer while simultaneously trying to regain the love and trust of his soulmate. Will Saint be able to outsmart a sociopath? Will Xenia and Saint survive this true test of their union? March with Saint and come find out.

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