January 4, 2012

Made It Moment: Lauren Sweet

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 10:14 am

Contest Update: Congratulations to reader Jessica Wentz who won an e copy of ALADDIN’S SAMOVAR! Thanks to all of you for entering, and here’s to many more giveaways to come!

Aladdin's Samovar

Late last spring, the Made It Moments forum quietly celebrated its second anniversary, which means that this June it will be three years old. When something runs for that long, milestones begin to take place, and today’s Moment celebrates a great one. Today I welcome someone to the forum whom I’ve known for well over a decade, as a writer, as an editor, and as a friend. Lauren Sweet has had a pivotal effect on my own work, and I am thrilled to see her come into her own as author with a humorous mystery that delivers as many laughs as it does twists.

Lauren Sweet

When Jenny invited me to write a Moment, I told her I’d love to. But it wouldn’t really be a Made-it Moment, I explained very seriously. It would have to be a Did-it Moment.

At the time, I’d just decided to self-publish my humorous mystery, Aladdin’s Samovar, as an ebook. It wasn’t even out yet, let alone selling. I’d decided to “Do It.” But would I “Make It?”

I’d been dreaming of “making it” as a writer since 1983—about the time I graduated from college and was forced to, you know, work for a living. I began submitting my first romance novel in 1984—no luck. I started numerous other books and struggled with them, unable to bring the stories to fruition, and finally slid into a bout of writer’s block that lasted for years. Every idea I came up with trickled away like sand between my fingers as I tried to capture it on paper. After awhile, I stopped trying.

One day, a coworker at my temp job asked me if I would help him type up a novel he and his cousin were writing. He had no idea I’d ever written a word of fiction. Being me, I was unable to stop myself from critiquing and offering suggestions. (I do that. It used to be a flaw—now it’s a profession. Go figure.) Gradually, my writing spark was rekindled. I started novels. I didn’t finish them. I ran away to Alaska and got an MFA. And then I wrote a crazy, fun book about a woman who finds a genie in a brass samovar and wishes to meet her long-lost father, only to find out that he’s on the run from the Mafia.

Aladdin’s Samovar sold 25 copies last week—its first week out. (One or two were even bought by people who don’t know me.) I was back to pondering, “How will I know when I’ve made it?”

And then I started getting feedback. An acquaintance emailed me to say that she’d just downloaded the book and was sucked in—up to Chapter 3 already. Another was up to Chapter 8. My college roommate wrote to ask why I had to write something with fantasy in it, because I know she hates fantasy. A few hours later, she wrote to say she was halfway through, and loving it.

But the best was an old friend who finished the book in two days and immediately posted on Facebook, wanting to know when the next one was coming out.

And suddenly, I felt like I’d made it.

Lauren Sweet was born and raised in New Jersey, spending her formative years with a book in her hand. She tried her hand at writing romance novels in the ‘80s, took a twenty-year detour through the business world, and finally escaped to Alaska and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Lauren now lives near Portland, OR, and is a freelance writer and editor. Her other esoteric skills include astrology, figure skating, and the ability to do a perfect split.


  1. Sounds like a fun read. You obviously have a sense of humor.


    Comment by Arthur Levine — January 4, 2012 @ 10:31 am

  2. Isn’t it wonderful, Lauren, when someone who wouldn’t ordinarily read the kind of book you write loves your book? Good luck with the book. It sounds like a fun read.

    And a perfect split! I’m impressed.

    Comment by Nancy Morse — January 4, 2012 @ 10:36 am

  3. Lauren, good luck. And what a nice pic with a great smile!

    Comment by Barbara Ebel — January 4, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  4. Looks like a great read!!! Can’t wait to read it!!

    Comment by Jessica Wentz — January 4, 2012 @ 10:48 am

  5. I love the idea of Did It Moments! Because, really, doing it is what matters and making it from what you do is in the hands of the gods–or, um, genies?–or ice conditions or the stars. Good job, Lauren!

    Comment by Sara — January 4, 2012 @ 10:58 am

  6. Gosh, she and I have a lot in common. Both of us started wanting y be a writer in 1983 and put it off until recently. I love humor and romance. Will check it out. Congratulate for your three years anniversary.

    Comment by Lisa wharton — January 4, 2012 @ 11:08 am

  7. Huge congrats, Lauren. I`m adding your book to my TBR list!

    Comment by Anne K. Albert — January 4, 2012 @ 11:29 am

  8. Yay Lauren!

    Comment by Judy — January 4, 2012 @ 11:41 am

  9. So glad you can feel the joy of accomplishing a goal from your heart!]

    Morgan Mandel

    Comment by Morgan Mandel — January 4, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

  10. I have to say to anyone who hasn’t read it yet: I! Love! This! Book! If you’re iffy about picking up something new, don’t hesitate on ALADDIN’S SAMOVAR. It’s hilarious, charming, and exceedingly well-written.

    Comment by SavvyBlue — January 4, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

  11. Lauren,
    Great blog! I think writing humor is a special gift. Congratulations! May you sell many copies.

    Comment by Marilyn Levinson — January 4, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

  12. Wow, I go grocery shopping for a couple of hours and when I come back, I find all these kind words! Thanks, everybody. (And thanks especially to Jenny, for this opportunity as well as your friendship and support for all these years.)

    May 2012 be a year of great success for all of us!

    Lauren Sweet

    Comment by Lauren S — January 4, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

  13. Hi Lauren,

    This is such a great post! I read Aladdin’s Samovar and I loved it. It was such a perfect combo of funny and great writing! I’m with your college friend…when is the next one coming out?

    Comment by Johanna — January 4, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

  14. Lauren, good for you! An inspiring post.

    Comment by Anita — January 4, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

  15. Congrats on publishing your novel from another Jersey girl.

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — January 4, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

  16. Congrats, Lauren! Best,

    Comment by Pamela DuMond — January 4, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

  17. This sounds like a lot of fun. Way to go.

    Comment by Carolyn J. Rose — January 4, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

  18. Congrats, Lauren. Going to add your book to my TBR pile.

    Visit my blog @ http://vidya-booksaremagic.blogspot.com/ when you can.

    P.S. A new follower.

    Comment by Vidya — January 5, 2012 @ 1:03 am

  19. Terrific story, Lauren, and congrats to Jenny: “made it” and “did it” are close relatives. In my experience, both are tremendously gratifying.

    Comment by Steve Piacente — January 7, 2012 @ 9:07 am

  20. You have made it! I will pass this on to my reading community and it is going on myu TBR list. Congratulations. It feels good doesn’t it.

    Comment by Darlene Foster — January 8, 2012 @ 11:51 pm

  21. I hope Lorie gets many buyers from her sale!

    Morgan Mandel

    Comment by Morgan Mandel — January 9, 2012 @ 11:58 am

  22. Congratulations many times over, Lauren! The book is a fun read (can’t wait for book 2, in due time, of course), and Lauren is a fantabulous editor who understands story structure in a way that few do. I can’t recommend her writing and her editing skills enough!

    Comment by Becca — January 10, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

  23. Thanks again to everyone who stopped by, for your kind words and encouragement. I can see why Jenny loves hanging out with you all! And congratulations to Jessica on winning the giveaway! Hope you enjoy the book.

    Lauren Sweet

    Comment by Lauren S — January 19, 2012 @ 11:03 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress