How long have you been writing?
Always a tricky question. Ive been writing in some form or another for as long as I can remember, but I didn't set out to write novels and sell them until about 10 or 11 years ago. I was 8 months pregnant with Child #2 and we'd just moved hundreds and hundreds of miles away from our families, so I was in a new town, didn't know anyone, and too nervous to go meet anyone anyway, so it seemed like a good time to start writing.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Does it count that I want to be a plotter? LOL I really really do want to be one, but alas, so far, I'm still a pantser. I like the freedom of not knowing what's going to happen next, of learning who my characters are and what they want as the pages go by. But at the same time, I know it would be a heckuva lot easier to write if I knew whatwas going on ahead of time.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
I love the very beginning, I love the very end, and my all time favourite is about ¾ of the way through the story, when I'm feeling like things are never going to work, and that the entire book is junk,I'll suddenly get an "aha" moment when it all makes sense again. (see how much easier that would be if I plotted it out before hand??)
It would seem easier! But arent those aha moments grand!!!
Where do you find your inspiration?
I look at people. Every wrinkle in their faces tells a story and we, as writers, just need to figure out what that story is.
How do you come up with your ideas/plots?
This is another tricky question, because it's hard to pin point one(or even a few) specific things that will trigger an idea. When I wrote Here Comes the Bride, the only thing I knew to start with was that the ranch was going to be the setting and it was going to be named El Cielo (which loosely translated means heaven). The idea for Charming Jo came about because I had this female character in my mind who was tough.
Do you write in short stretches or for long periods of time?
Every day is different for me. Sometimes, when I'm on a roll, I can write all day, but other days, it's more of a stops-and-spurts kind ofwriting. I hate those days.
Do you write in silence or listen to music?
Music! I like it loud, too. Usually country, but when I was writing The Devil's Daughter and Dancing with the Devil, I cranked up Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell cd and listened to that over and over and over and over. It seems wrong to me that my 7-year old knows thel yrics to most of the songs now, but he has never been one to listen to normal 'kid' music anyway, so. . . LOL
lol, I used to sing my oldest son rock songs instead of nursery rhymes! Now that is wrong!!
Do you eat or drink while writing?
I usually keep coffee and water nearby, but with food, I try to keep myself on a regular schedule. I take a coffee break in mid-morning,then stop for lunch, too, because if I did it any other way, I'd eat continually. LOL
What no chocolate?? lol
Do you research your story before you write it, or as you go?
Both usually. A bit of research at the beginning to ignite the spark,but then once the spark is lit, I get down to the writing. The problem I have with that is I'm not able to write past a problem. If I come to a part that needs some research, I have to stop writing and find the answer before I can go forward again. Not exactly conducive to a continual flow of writing, but it works for me.
What have you learned through research that you'll remember forthe rest of your life?
It might sound trite, but I've learned to appreciate what I have and to try not to take it for granted. When I think about what people went through 150 years ago, how they lived, and how they survived, it makes me very thankful for the way I live now.
How do you decorate your writing space?
It's changed so many times over the years, but right now I have one wall covered in things my boys have made, drawn or created. One section is all paper flowers they've drawn me which I absolutely love!I have bulletin boards covered in pictures of friends, family and Snoopy cartoons, and a long shelf lined with my research books. I also keep coverflats from each of my books hanging in the room so that when I start to get that "ugh I can't do this!" feeling, I can look up at them and see that I *can* do it.
Are you a neat/organized writer or is your office and/or space a complete mess with sticky notes everywhere?
LOL It's usually a bit of a disaster. I have Post-It notes stuck on the walls, books opened all over the place and cups half-filled with cold coffee. But then once in a while I do a huge purge and clean it all up again.
Does all your writing take place on a computer or do you ever write on pen and paper?
I'd say about 90% of it is on my laptop. I'll jot down notes and ideas on anything I can find to scribble on (including a barf bag on an airplane once LOL), but any of the 'real' writing happens through a keyboard. Hand writing takes too long! LOL
A barf bag??? lol
What is your favorite time period? And why?
The old west, of course. Every historical era has stories to tell,but in my mind, there is nothing more amazing than the stories of people who trekked into the unknown, fighting disease, the elements, and an unforgiving land like we can't even imagine. On top of that,there was the loneliness, the fear of attack, and the knowledge that their new life could possibly turn out so much worse than the life they left behind. These people had grit!
That is so true!
Do you feel a draw to the people and time period you write about?
I don't think for one second that I'm even a fraction as strong as those people were, but I have a great deal of admiration for all those who ventured west. I can only hope to be half as brave as any of them.
What character did you most enjoy writing?
I know it sounds strange, but secondary characters are always a lot of fun for me to write. Two of my all-time favourites are Bart Calloway,the hero's brother in Here Comes the Bride, and in my upcoming book,Dancing with theDevil, it was the hero's sister, Kit. There's just something about these two, the way they just don't give a rip about anything, that makes them so much fun for me to write.
Will any of these characters get their own story?
Readers are always curious to know about authors lives. What is the worst job (non-writing related) you've ever held?
Oh boy. Well, I was a chamber maid at a hotel in Whistler for a few months. Generally, it was an okay job, until a group of kids came in and urinated on the walls. Stuff like that made it a little nasty. I also spent a few summers sorting screws into piles (flat head, slothead, yada yada yada). Not exactly exciting, but it was money and I was 12 or something, so what did I care? LOL
Ewwwwwwww, urinating on the walls?
What is one thing you think your readers would be interested to know about you?
Hmmmm I'm a Yankees fan. That ought to either have readers cheering with me or throwing things at me. LOL
Are you reclusive or do you like being with other writers?
Most of the time I'm more comfortable on my own, but I love going to the annual RWA conference where I get to meet all the other writersI've only met online.
Your answer seems to be the consensus among the authors I know.
Do you find love scenes easy or hard to write?
I used to hate them; in fact I remember being horribly embarrassed the first time I wrote the word breast! LOL Now it's no big deal. I don't write love scenes just so I can say I have them in my books. In fact, in Charming Jo, I hadn't intended to write one at all because the characters, while in love, didn't lead me to write on because of the turns their story took. But suddenly, there I was at the end,writing a love scene for them. You have to read the book to understand why it was important for them to have a love scene, and why it was important for that scene to wait as long as it did. Still, I wouldn't say they're easy or fun to write because these are the scenes where every sense must be heightened, every single word chosen carefully to set the exact mood. So it's not easy, but when it works, it's magic!
I couldnt agree with you more!
Do you ever act out your scenes?
No, but I read them out loud so I can hear what it sounds like. It's amazing how many mistakes I've found by doing that, or how many things I've had to rework because I realize how silly it sounds.
Thats great advice.
How long do you wait once a story is finished to revise it?
I revise as I write, so I don't usually leave it that long. Normally,I get about 5 or 6 chapters into a new story, realize something needs to be changed, I go back, fix it, rewrite what needs to be rewritten, and then move on. A few chapters later, the same thing happens, so back I go again. This process is repeated over and over again until I get to the end, so hopefully by the time I get to the end, most things have been edited and corrected.
Its good that you can do it that way, some of us, get so caught up
in changing things that we dont ever finish. Sigh*
Do you ever second guess yourself and your writing?
Oh my gosh every second of every day is spent second-guessing what I've written, what I'm about to write, what I want to write. . ..
Glad to know Im not alone!
Do you ever stray from your genre? Your comfort zone?
I have two proposals out right now, one is a contemporary romance set in the Canadian arctic and the other is a non-fiction, so yes, I guess I do tiptoe out of my comfort zone sometimes. Not often, though.
Wow, best of luck with both of those proposals!
Is it necessary to have a Critique/Writing partner?
Necessary? No. Valuable? Absolutely! Finding a critique partner who you respect, and who respects you, is a very difficult thing.Making the critique relationship work is even more difficult. You want these people to be honest with you, to tell you what's wrong with your book before you mail it out and make a fool of yourself. Yet, at the same time, you have to be able to take their criticisms without taking them personally, and sometimes that's near to impossible.
Do you allow family and friends to read your stories?
I have a critique group I use, and I'll usually send my sister the first few chapters to see what she thinks, but that's it. I don't like people reading my stuff before I'm finished, and I usually can't send anything to my critique group or sister until I'm at least 4 or 5 chapters into the writing because I'm so afraid I'll jinx myself and mess everything up.
Authors make writing look so easy. Is it harder than most people imagine it to be?
I'd say for most authors, it's a lot harder than most readers think.I read somewhere that the easier a book is to read, the harder it was to write.
How long does it take you to finish a story?
Each story, so far, has been completely different, so it would be difficult for me to answer this.
When you write a new story are you apprehensive about allowing others to critique it?
Lord, yes. It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about someone reading and critiquing it. I have to make sure I've got a firm mental grip on the story before I let my critique group read it, otherwise,I'll end up deep-sixing the whole project.
Which author/(s) are on your must-read list?
Linda Lael Miller, Julianne MacLean, and all of my friends over atRomance Unleashed (which encompasses an incredibly diverse group of genres).
What is your favorite writing memory?
The day I got the call from Hilary Sares at Kensington, offering to buy my first 2 books, and the day I got the call from Leah Hultenschmidt at Dorchester, offering to buy my Devil books.
I bet, that must have been amazing!
Do you have more than one book out now?
I have 3 books out at the moment, though the first two are probably pretty scarce.
HERE COMES THE BRIDE was released in May, 2005;CHARMING JO was released in September 2006; and THE DEVIL'S DAUGHTER has just been released this week.
Congratulations on the release of the Devils Daughter!
Has your writing Journey been a smooth or bumpy ride?
Well, hmm. It hasn't been as smooth as I originally imagined, but it hasn't been as bumpy as it could have been, so I guess all in all,it's been good. Besides, a couple speed bumps along the way have away of shaking things up and keeping them interesting, right?
If you say so!!! lol
What advice would you give to a new aspiring writer?
Just write. That's it. Just write. Listen to the suggestions of your critique group, learn as much as you can from anyone you can, and then just write.
Great advice Laura! Thanks so much for taking time to sit with us! Its been a great experience and weve learned so much about you!!! Best of luck with your Devil series!!!!