|Visit Laurie's website HERE!|
It's Friday, Friday... Yeah, I'm evil. But, I'll make it up to you by introducing a lovely author with an equally lovely book. Today, give a warm welcome to Laurie Larsen. She's published several books, which you'll have to check out on her website. Her latest release is a contemporary romance called Inner Diva.
Thanks so much for coming to Unwritten, Laurie! I love meeting new authors. Put your feet up and tell us what you do when you're not writing romantic tales.
Hi Misty! Thanks so much for having me visit. I love your website and I’m happy to be here chatting with you on this Friday (Friday, Friday, doot doo! Ha ha)
When I’m not writing, you can bet that I’m doing one of just a few other things: 1) working my day job – I’m a Project Manager in the Information Technology field (computer applications) so you know there’s plenty of activity there, 2) watching my younger son play either football or baseball, or 3) wondering when I’ll next see my older son, who is away at college. Hobbies include reading (of course!), watching movies, going to plays (I must like to be entertained) and walking, either outside with the dog or on the treadmill (by myself). I also love music, and I enjoy singing with my church choir. I’m a fairly recent convert from Top 40 pop to country music, and I love live music, so I check out concerts of my favorite artists.
I've been snooping on your website, like all of you dear readers should do right now. From reading your biography there, I see that writing became a creative outlet for you as a mother of young children. I can totally relate, being a full-time mom of three. Tell us about your writing life now. Have you got a set schedule? Do you like to write in a specific place or have certain things around you like music or coffee?
Yes, I started writing my first book when my kids were 8 and 5, I believe. I just felt so wrapped up in them and their constant care, that there was no “me” anymore. Writing seemed to be something that I could do – that I enjoyed, that I was good at – that was completely separate from my job and my family. Once I started, I never stopped. I guess I’ve been writing for 13 years now – published for 11. It’s addictive!
I find what works for me as a writer with a day job, is to write for certain months out of the year, then give myself certain months off – the months that are really busy with other things. For example, when my son starts spring baseball season, I know I’m going to attend 40 to 50 baseball games between April and July. Doubleheaders three nights a week, and tournaments on the weekends. Now tell me, how could I ever make progress on a book during that time? But my conscience nags at me, all those nights I’m sitting out at the dusty ball field – “You should be writing, you should be writing.” So I purposely give myself those months off. Not only does it ease my guilty conscience, it also makes me so ready and anxious to write in August, the ideas just well up in me, and spill over when I finally open up that manuscript. Similarly, I take off the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas just because of the busy-ness of the season.
When I am working on a manuscript, I’m ruthless with myself. I either set an hour goal (90 minutes a day) or a page goal (4-5 pages a day) and I don’t give myself nights off. My goal is to finish a book a year, and on limited writing time, you can’t take nights off. I generally write in my “office” which is actually my guest room with my computer desk in the corner. I have written a book or two on my laptop, and logged some writing hours in my living room and the Barnes and Noble. But I don’t abide too many distractions – quiet and secluded works best for me.
Let's move on to Inner Diva. From your website, I see that it took a few years to get this one out there where readers can get their hands on it! Tell us about that process. Did you ever get so frustrated you wanted to give up on this project?
Yes! My July 2011 release, available on e-book for Kindle and Nook. Inner Diva was the seventh manuscript I wrote, and I wanted to try something a little different. Instead of writing a book, then looking for a publisher, I did my research and tried to write a book tailor-made for a specific publisher – in this case, Harlequin. I researched by reading lots of Harlequin books, scouring the writers’ guidelines for each of their lines, identified which line I wanted to write for, talked to other authors in that line. Once I knew exactly what that line required, I wrote the book. Once it was done, I got feedback on it from a Harlequin author and made changes. Once it was polished and perfect, I submitted to an editor, using (with permission) the endorsement of a published author of that editor. Very different approach for me! I had some very promising moments – including an email conversation between me and the editor when he praised my characters and writing style. But ultimately, after two and a half years without a rejection or an acceptance, and now no communication from the editor, I decided I had to move on. I made other plans for publishing the book. Yes, I did get frustrated – VERY frustrated! Did I want to give up on the book? Absolutely not. If anything, I guess I gave up on the publisher. But I knew Inner Diva would appeal to people and I’m glad it’s now available for those who want to read it.
Looks like your heroine, Monica, is an aspiring actress and a Big Sister to a little girl named Luisa. Was she inspired by any real-life events? What about Carlos?
Monica was not inspired by any real-life events, although I have to admit I’ve always been tempted to be a Big Sister myself to either a little girl (since I have both boys) or a little boy (who could fit into my family pretty easily). However, Carlos – I was writing the book the year Mario Lopez was competing in Dancing With the Stars and he was my inspiration for the “look” of Carlos – yum yum!
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Your first book, Whispers of the Heart was picked up by the first publisher you sent it to. I had a similar experience with my first novelette. How wonderfully affirming was that news?
Isn't that a fantastic feeling? I think it’s what convinced me that I had a second book in me, and a third, and a fourth. If I can do it once, I can do it again. Becoming a published author was a life-changing experience and I still have to thank that first publisher for making my dreams come true.
You've had several books and articles published over the years. How hard was it to work on your dream while working and mothering full time? What is your advice to other busy moms out there who have toyed with the idea of writing for publication?
It’s hard, I can’t lie. You have to be committed to it, and you have to choose other things in your life to give up, to make your time for writing. People always ask me, “How do you have time to work full time and write books?” You make the time. You have 24 hours every day – it’s like putting a puzzle together – how are you going to utilize those hours? For me, I sleep 7 and work 9. That leaves 8. Can’t I find one hour of those 8 to do this thing that I love? Yes, you can find it. Maybe you need to skip watching TV in the evening. Or talking on the phone. Or Facebook. J But if it’s important to you, you’ll find the time.
For other mothers who have toyed with the idea of writing – I’d say go for it! The reward for making the time to do what you love (in addition to the fun of the writing itself) is huge. You get the joy of creation, you make great friends in the writer community. You experience the full spectrum of emotions, from the pain of rejection, to the ecstasy of a contest win. You get the fun of perfecting your craft, and you reach other people. I don’t know many endeavors that are more worth the time invested.
Can't let you get away without a random question. So here goes: What's the best costume you've ever worn?
When I was in my mid-twenties, my roommate and I went to a Halloween party dressed as a horse. I was the front and she was the back!
Finally, Ms. Larsen, would you please share an excerpt from Inner Diva?
Sure! As you can imagine from the title, Monica has the dream of being an actress, but she’s a behind-the-scenes girl. Being out front in the spotlight intrigues, but terrifies her. But she’s always daydreaming about being a star, sometimes to the distraction of her every-day life:
The door of her limousine slid open, and she stuck out a high-heeled foot, pausing to soak in the expectant silence of her onlookers. With a satisfied grin, she turned in her seat, gripped the hand reaching out to her and left the automobile, standing on the red carpet that covered the sidewalk. Her silk Versace gown hugged her slim form and floated like a dream as she strolled, gracing the crowd with her best Mona Lisa smile. Her escort and most perfect accessory slid out of the limo behind her and followed, dressed in his black tuxedo and crisp white shirt, holding her arm protectively.
“Watch out! Down below, watch out!”
Monica looked up and bolted, barely escaping the onslaught of a huge stage light on its cable wire just inches away. Steve Phillips, the stage guy on a twenty-foot high backstage platform about two feet square, and one of her best buds, hoisted the cable on its pulley, halting the light before it collided with the stage. “Got it under control!” he said with the slightest trace of panic in his voice. Monica suspected he was trying to convince himself as much as everyone else. “Wouldn’t have let it hit anyone. Or anything.”
Monica grinned at him. She’d worked with Steve on several productions, and he was a fun-loving guy who made her laugh. He drew his hand over his brow with an exaggerated “Whew” gesture and tugged the light back up where it belonged. She really needed to keep her mind on her work and her imagination under wraps tonight.
Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Laurie. I wish you the best of luck!!
Thank you so much Misty! And Happy Friday!
For more information on Laurie Larsen, please visit: