Interview with Lori L. Otto, Part II of II

Emi Lost & Found Series. Noted in Nashville.Interview with Lori L. Otto, Author of Emi Lost & Found

Part II of II

*** I have broken this interview into a two-part post.  Read Part I to find the answer to the question at the end of this interview.  The first person to answer it right will win an e-book package including the three-part Emi Lost & Found Series, the prequel Not Today, But Someday, and Contessa.  That’s 5 free books! Good luck. ***

Tell us a little about your process; your thoughts on planning/organizing/outlining a work of fiction.  How much information do you map out before writing the story?

I’ve done it a couple of different ways.  The Emi series was completely outlined, but I didn’t stick to it.  Characters pretty much decide what they’re going to do, and it’s not always what I want them to do.  I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.  Contessa, which is the first book in the Choisie series, wasn’t planned at all.  I knew I wanted her to have issues with her father, but that was it.  This was the book I chose to work on during National Novel Writing Month in 2011.  The big rule there is to just write, so that’s what I did.  An interesting fact: when I started writing, there wasn’t a love interest for Livvy.  Then Jon showed up, and became a huge part of the story.  I had only planned to write one book for Livvy, but her story continued playing out in my mind and is now three.

The prequel, Not Today, But Someday, was also completely spontaneous.  That one was pretty liberating to write.

As far as organization, I think most people would think I was insane.  I have family trees, timelines spanning thirty years, and maps of Manhattan with points of interest noted.  I also have photos of actors/actresses that I envision in the roles of different characters.  All of these things are actually taped up around my monitor.

I know you are very disciplined in your writing schedule.  How do you juggle blogging, NaNoWriMo, Facebook, marketing, work, and life in general when you’re writing a book (or three)?

I’m very goal-oriented.  If I put a number out there, I’ll typically do anything it takes to hit it.  That’s why I love NaNoWriMo so much.  The blogging/Facebook/marketing/real job really take away from my writing time.  I’m more active these days because I’m not writing as much as I was last year.  Although I don’t like that decision, it’s the right one to make right now.  Since book sales started picking up in December, it’s been imperative to keep the word out there, so I’ve made the choice to spend less time writing and more time trying to sell the books.  My goal is to be able to quit my ‘real job’ at the end of the year, so I think it’s a worthwhile investment of my time… all I really want is more time to write.

What advice (practical or inspirational) would you give someone who is thinking of self-publishing?

If you believe in your book, go for it–but be prepared for a lot of hard work and splitting your time between writing, marketing, communicating with readers, promoting the book, talking about the book, begging your friends, and any life you have outside of writing.  For me, I have to share it with my ‘real’ job, as well as a social life.  Be prepared to find out the people who are your real friends.  That’s a hard lesson, and I still struggle with it.  Surround yourself with people who truly believe in you and what you’re doing.

Don’t expect overnight success.  My books were out for a year and a half before they really started to get noticed by people outside my circle of friends.

Tell us a little about your Choisie series.

Livvy was one of my favorite characters in the Emi Lost & Found series.  She had such a personality, and she was only really in it for a chapter and a half or so.  Still, the idea to write anything from her point of view didn’t come until March of 2011, which was two and a half years after the first draft of Emi Lost & Found was completed.  I like YA, and I wanted to do something YA.  Seven months later, I finally started writing something.  The original idea was to write a book my dad would be able to read, because he won’t get near Emi’s series because of the sex.  Turns out he won’t really read Contessa, either, because there’s a little bit of making out.  I wrote a book that came from my heart, though, and I’m very proud of it.  I adore Livvy, I adore her boyfriend, and I absolutely love her father, who is a saint in this book.

The series will follow Livvy through her last year of high school and her first year of college.  Readers can expect another chapter somewhere down the line from Jack’s point of view, and I’m planning on releasing some outtakes when the series is complete.

Tell us about any upcoming projects including the prequel to Emi Lost & Found.

The prequel is already out in e-book format, but the paperback will be out soon!  I wrote it and published it–two chapters a week–on my blog in the summer of 2012.  It was in response to a bad review, actually, from someone who really wanted Emi and Nate’s backstory.  It was, like, revenge.  I didn’t expect it to turn out like it did.  I never thought it would be something people would actually pay for because it was so unplanned and off-the-cuff, but I think it’s charming and a nice companion piece to the series.

In addition to Livvy’s two other books, I’m also working on a series of three books that will be formatted similarly to Emi’s series, where three different narrators tell the story of Steven, who is Jack’s youngest brother.  I feel bad because I’ve neglected him a lot, spending much more time with Livvy than I’d ever intended.  The first book of that series will likely be the hardest book I’ve ever had to write.  The subject matter will be pretty foreign to me, but I feel certain I can handle it.  Just this week, I came up with a really fun ‘teaser’ prequel scene.

People have asked me if I’ll ever leave the Holland/Hennigan families behind, and I’m not really sure.  There are so many rich characters, and some just surprise me and start having conversations in my head.  I’ve had a lot of requests for a series around Jack’s other brother, Matty.  I’m not sure I’m funny enough to sustain a series of books for him, but I am planning on giving him more time in other series.  He’s a great character, too.

*** Okay folks, for the whole enchilada, the Lollapalooza Platter, the Smorgasbord, the . . . man, I’m hungry.  Anyway, answer this question first and the e-books are yours.  What song did Lori sob through while writing Never Look Back and what musical duo performs it? ***

– Anita, Noted in Nashville

Learn more about Lori – including ways to purchase her books – by clicking the links below:

SensitiVitality, Lori’s Blog:

Ways to purchase Lori’s books in paperback and digital formats:



17 thoughts on “Interview with Lori L. Otto, Part II of II

  1. “Characters pretty much decide what they’re going to do, and it’s not always what I want them to do.” This is so true, and it’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t write fiction. I’m a staunch outliner, but even with that, my characters take me to new places.

    And Lori sobbed through ‘Spark’ by The Bird and the Bee (though I had to go back to the post to come up with the answer 😉 ).

  2. Excellent conclusion to Part I….I don’t want to get ahead of myself (and spoil it for others) but I think I have a pretty good idea of the “subject matter” in Steve’s story and can’t wait to see how it develops:)!

    • Thanks for coming back for Part II Veronica. I’m still on the Emi series. I’m nearly to book three, and I haven’t learned much about Steve yet.

      I was very selective with my interview questions with Lori for the same reason you mentioned – I didn’t want to spoil anything for anyone. There’s so much I’d like to say, but can’t! Maybe Lori’s readers need a chat room. 🙂

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