Monday, December 1, 2008

DATING DA VINCI - by Malena Lott

My guest today on the Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit Lit Blog tour is Malena Lott, author of the new novel, Dating Da Vinci, which Publisher's Weeky has hailed as "written smartly...satisfying and uplifting."

Ramona Elise is in a rut—a 36-year-old widowed mother of two, she can’t seem to find what makes her truly happy in life. Making sure her kids are happy isn’t the hard part; Ramona’s looking for the passion she lost two years ago after her husband died and her world turned upside down. When a handsome Italian immigrant walks into her English class, Ramona never expects to find la dolce vita (the sweet life) in a younger man—or in herself!

“Finding herself on a new path wildly different than the one she envisioned with [her husband,] Joel,” comments BookList’s Annie McCormack, “Ramona Elise (or Mona Lisa, as da Vinci calls her) learns to open her heart to new possibilities in order to find la dolce vita in Lott’s delightfully affirming romance.”

“…a Texas-based hybrid of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Under the Tuscan Sun. Happily, Lott takes her story in several surprising directions: she throws some serious curveballs in her wise-in-the-ways-of-love Italian stereotype, and Ramona, in a refreshing plot twist, discovers that some of her carefully nursed unhappiness was the product of her own insecurities…it’s thoughtful, heartfelt, and undeniably engaging.” - Word Candy

Dating da Vinci is Malena's second book. She is a brand and marketing consultant with national speaking experience, and facilitates personal and professional development workshops for women. She is a married mother of three and makes her home in Oklahoma. Visit her Web site for cooking videos, contests, a first-chapter excerpt, and more here.

Malena took some time to answer a few questions...

Name three songs that would be perfect for the soundtrack of your book.

Great question. I loved the Italian CafĂ© compilation and listened to it a lot to find la dolce vita – the sweet life – so I’d say the whole CD, which you can hear by watching my videos on malena “That’s Amore,” and “All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun,” by Sheryl Crow would be appropriate, too.

What was the inspiration behind the writing of Dating da Vinci?

I don’t recall the exact a-ha moment when the book idea came to fruition, but I’d just moved into a new house in the ‘burbs, my whole department had just been laid off, and I was in a big transition period as a stay-at-home mom and starting my own consulting business. I was definitely in a place in my life where I was thinking: what’s next? And, what does it mean to truly be happy? So Ramona sprung to life, and since I’ve always been a huge da Vinci fan – there wasn’t anything that guy wasn’t gifted at – it all just came together.

What are you reading now?

Like most writers, I’m a voracious reader. As much as a book a week, and usually one non-fic and one fiction book so I can choose depending on my mood. I love psychology books, body/mind/spirit books and for fiction my bookstand is extremely diverse. Big influencers have been John Irving and Jodi Picoult for characterization and emotion and lots of great romantic comedy influences both from movies and books.

What is the elevator pitch for Dating da Vinci?

Dating da Vinci is a Texas-based Under the Tuscan Sun meets How Stella Got Her Groove Back. A young widow, 36-year-old Ramona Griffen, searches for joy with the help of a handsome young Italian immigrant named Leonardo da Vinci.

What is your advice for those who looking to get their novel published?

Read every day. Attend writing conferences and workshops. Join a writer’s group. Finish your novel – one with a unique hook and interesting layers to it. Get an agent who reps and sells a lot of the genre you are writing. Believe in yourself. Never give up. And by never, I mean NE-VER! Good luck to you.

Buona fortuna, Malena!

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