Hardened Hearts austins-apology  shadowed-secrets  guarding-greatness 

Interview with Lena Jakes

How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has done the hardest part for me - getting Hardened Hearts out to the public! There are so many different formats, processes, requirements for each different vendor. With Smashwords, I was able to submit my book once and have it instantly distributed to various vendors. It saved me time, frustration, and sanity!

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Escape! It always has been. I'm the oldest of seven children, and now am the single mom of two teenage boys and three dogs. I've never officially had control of the remote! Really though, I spent my high school years living with my grandparents. My grandma had shelves upon shelves of high-seas pirates and wanton maidens, but after a while, they became repetitive. When I started writing my own things, I was able to create any situation, with any character I could think of. No more half naked pirates turned gentlemen for me!

What do your fans mean to you?
They are my justification and they vanquish my fears. Hardened Hearts had actually been written for a while, but I never published it because I didn't want to hear how awful it was. Finally, with the help of a pushy friend, I published Hardened Hearts on 11-12-12. Exactly 12 hours later I had my first five star review. It's cliché, but I spent the next month thinking, "They like me! They really like me!" I actually researched the heck out of that first reviewer to make sure it wasn't a family member being nice to me! Of course, now I'm afraid of letting my fans down. Someone emailed me from Canada and asked when the 2nd book was coming because she loved the first one so much she couldn't wait. Talk about pressure!!

What are you working on next?
Just six hours ago I finished the second book in the Teams series. It's in the hands of beta-readers now, and will be sent to the editor after that. I'm hoping to be able to hit "publish" before the end of next month after the cover is designed, I figure out a title, and the editor yells at me a little. This second book, I won't lie, it was a hard to write. Not because I didn't want to, but because now it has such a high bar to live up to. Still though, now that it's done, I'm already plotting out books three, four, and five in the series!

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Oh wow. I've mentioned before that I'm single mom of two teenage boys, three dogs, and a guinea pig. I'm also an Office Manager for a family law firm, a regular blog writer for a parenting website, student, and a best friend. I'm thinking about having business cards made up saying "Professional Troubleshooter / Chauffer / Chef / Groomer / Housemaid"... but that would be a pretty long business card.

What is your writing process?
For me, it's all about the music. Originally I had headphones in to block out the dogs, and the TV, and the kids. Then it became a mood stabilizer. For love scenes, there will be a particular song that just seems like a love-making song, and I'll hit repeat. I have favorite songs for action scenes, dangerous scenes, creepy scenes, sad scenes... now it is not uncommon for me to hear the same song 30 times in a row until I can get a particular scene written. I am also a fan of complete darkness in a room when I can get it, and writing first thing in the morning when no one is around to need me for anything. I try and aim for 15 minutes a day, but am jotting notes down on any and everything whenever something pops into my head.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes and no. The first story (outside of children's books) I remember reading was Lamb to the Slaughter. I honestly think it has influenced my love of the twist ending, followed by a very close second Gift of the Maji. If you mean the first story that gave me the writing bug, it was Zach's Law by Kay Hooper. There were no pirates, no stolen virtues... but there was a damaged hero, a tiny woman with a big personality, and a group of men and women who were driven by making the world a better place. I was hooked! I still to this day have that book, taped pages and all.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I'm a little ashamed to admit, but I got my first e-reader device last year. I was a firm believer that paper was best. Books are trophies. I like seeing my collection grow. Then, for my birthday, my dad sent me an Acer tablet. Suddenly, I was able to purchase, download, and read a book within minutes. I could (and often do) stay up until 2 a.m. reading without having to turn on a light. Now I can't put the tablet down. It has my Kindle, Barnes and Noble and Overdrive apps on it. I cannot imagine my life without it anymore.

Describe your desk
It's a chair. Yup. A chair. See, the kids want nothing to do with me until I lock myself in my room where I have an actual desk. Then I can't keep them away from me. So, I tend to put in headphones, and write in the living room. However, I'm not a fan of coffee tables, so I have an old computer chair that swivels, rolls, and is height adjustable. So I place my laptop on that, roll it to whichever end of the couch hasn't already been claimed, and type away. If you're still interested, it's a hideous shade of lime green, lost it's back about a year ago, and has a bbq sauce stain on the edge. Sadly, so does my actual desk.

What's the story behind your latest book?
I am working on the second book in the Teams series, following Hardened Hearts. Austin Stewart sent newbie agent Addison Malloy into an undercover situation with human traffickers based on her questionable family background. The operation went horribly wrong, leaving Addison with a drug addiction and serious trust issues. Four years later, Austin's niece is in danger from the same people, forcing him to not only hunt Addison down, but gain her trust back and convince her to face the very situation that nearly destroyed her once before.