Having failed fabulously at painting, sewing and playing guitar, she finally found her creative outlet in writing strong, quirky heroines, and tough, handsome heroes with gooey animal-loving centres.
Lauren lives on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, with her beloved rescue greyhound, Daisy.
What do you like to read?
I've always loved to read and over the years I've gravitated towards many different genres. As a child I loved Enid Blyton and could often be found lost in the world of the Famous Five. Horror captured my attention during my teenage years making Stephen King my go-to author.
These days, romance is my preference—small town contemporary romance in particular, including authors Jill Shalvis and Kristan Higgins. I also love listening to regency romance audiobooks. Anne Gracie and Anna Campbell never disappoint.
My bookshelves are also full of novels by Jodi Picoult, Paullina Simons, Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly.
Tell us about the Anthology and how you became involved.
The Taste of Romance Anthology is a celebration of romance, and the talent within the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild. It features sixteen short romance stories from Guild members covering various sub-genres and heat levels.
I've been a member of the Guild since 2012 and jumped at the opportunity to participate in this anthology. Not only is it a great opportunity to polish my short story writing skills, but I was keen to learn more about the self-publishing process and participate in everything from writing the story to marketing and publishing the book.
Can you tell us a little about your current WIP?
The idea for my current work in progress Animal Instincts grew from my love of animals and an obsession with the US TV show 'Animal Cops' which follows animal cruelty investigators throughout the US. To me, there's nothing sexier than a man who protects helpless animals, and that's how my hero, Brad, came to life. Heroine, Charlie, runs an animal welfare centre and can't resist a lost cause. On the surface, they're the perfect match, but his past and her family may just keep them apart. Here is the blurb:
For animal shelter owner, CHARLIE MCQUEEN, family comes first. Always. With her adoptive parent’s money invested in her struggling business, and her father’s medical bills piling up, their family home is at risk of foreclosure. Funding from the pilot program for an animal cruelty investigation unit will save her business and her family. Failure is not an option.
When divorced animal cruelty investigator, BRAD PHILLIPS, arrives on assignment in Oregon’s Shadow Bay, he’s all about the job. Having given up on the dream of love and family, his philosophy on relationships is no mess, no drama, definitely no strings. To secure a coveted promotion back in Portland, his pilot program must run without a hitch or else he’ll be taking orders from the man who destroyed his marriage.
Sparks fly from the moment Brad and Charlie meet. But danger heats up when dogs are stolen from the shelter and the two must team up to investigate an illegal dog fighting ring. Charlie tempts Brad to want more than 'no-strings' with her big heart and selfless nature. But can Brad open up his battered heart to love again? And when Charlie's brother becomes the main suspect will she choose to protect her family or follow her heart?
If you could offer advice to aspiring authors, what would it be?
The best advice I can give is to take advantage of the opportunities available to you. Writing is solitary work, but you don't have to do it alone. There is a whole community of writers out there just like you.
Join a writer's group and/or association filled with other passionate, supportive writers. Becoming part of the MRWG and Romance Writers of Australia was the best decision I made for my writing career. I've made wonderful friends and contacts in the industry.
Find a critique partner who understands you and who can help you develop your voice and writing craft. My critique partners encourage and support me, while also pushing me beyond my comfort zone at times. That's where the best writing comes from.
Read craft books and complete writing courses. Do this in moderation. It can be easy to get caught up in the learning and stop actually writing. But there are great resources out there for writers of all levels.
Enter writing competitions. The judges are usually readers and writers of your genre and if you reach the finals, you'll get your work in front of editor and agent judges. I entered many competitions during 2016 and the feedback I received I was invaluable. I also received requests from a few editors and agents for more of my work. It's a fabulous way to get your manuscript out of the 'slush pile'.
‘I do love you, Ryan, so much. But it doesn’t fix things. I’m glad you’re getting help. But being with me will only make it harder. What happened to your mom is with you every day. You shouldn’t have to live through that every time I put on my uniform. You deserve better.’
She swallowed and looked away, twisting the large beads of her necklace between her fingers. ‘I deserve better, too, Ry. You don’t trust me to stay safe. I want to be loved for every part of me. To come home and talk about my day. Not keep things bottled up because you’ll freak out. I want a partner, not a protector.’
Her gaze darted around the room, never making contact with his. ‘I think it’s best if we meet at Riverfront Park for Duke’s drop offs from now on. Near our spot.’ She cleared her throat. ‘I mean, near the churro truck. I’ll text you a time.’
Anger surged. She was shutting him out without giving him a chance. ‘What next? You going to skip out on our families’ Fourth of July lunch next week, too?’
Duke whimpered but stayed on his bed.
‘Of course not. I’m not avoiding you... just this.’ She gestured to the rumpled sheets.
Since the split he’d been through denial, anger and bargaining. Only depression and acceptance left to go.
He’d ridden the grief rollercoaster before. Knew the drill.
‘I’m sorry, Ryan.’ Her breath caught on his name and tears spilled over onto her cheeks.
He reached for her once more but she twisted away. Each thunk on the hardwood stairs was like another lit match thrown on his gasoline-soaked dreams.
By the time the front door slammed, their future was nothing but a pile of smouldering ashes.