Blog Archive

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Writing to Inspire Love: Interview with Laura L. Walker

My interview today is with an avid reader who was so inspired about books that she decided to write her own. Like many of us, the process didn't happen overnight. Read on to find out what motivates Laura and keeps her writing. 

What drew you to writing sweet romance novels?

I love to read clean romance novels, preferably inspirational, so naturally, when I started writing again, this was the genre I gravitated toward. I also love historical fiction and would love to try my hand at that someday, but it will be awhile before I can really delve into the research that such a project requires.

What inspired you to write your first book?

From the time I can remember, I was always drawing heroines that appeared in my head and creating stories for them. After getting married and starting my family, I was given the overwhelming responsibility of raising an autistic child. I put away my hopes and dreams of writing a book for what I thought would be forever. Little did I know that several years later, I would feel the need to create something for my own enjoyment. 

I’d been cooking and cleaning and sewing costumes for my kids for so long, I felt that this had become my permanent identity. An idea for a story had been percolating in my head for a while, so when I presented it to my husband, to my surprise, he jumped on it and helped me to flesh it out. This project we collaborated on became Pierced by Love.

How long did it take to write it? How many rewrites did you do?

Three months. That may sound really fast to any writer; let me just agree. It wasn’t the best writing or even plotting and once my manuscript was accepted by a small publisher who likes to work with brand-new authors, there were a lot of revisions that awaited me. But I think in those early months of my writing career, my excitement at doing something I used to love again became a passion that helped me finish this story and carry enough momentum into the next story, which was a continuation of the first, with the exception of having different main characters. That story, The Matchup, took me five months to write—again, with many revisions in the months ahead.

Who helped you with the editing?

I’m pretty good with line editing, so my manuscript was pretty clean that way. But as I mentioned above, the plot line was very chaotic. A team of editors from my publisher carefully read it and made several suggestions for changing the story. This was difficult writing for me because they also put me on a deadline, but the story makes a lot more sense from those revisions. Then a line editor from Cedar Fort worked with me to make my book as readable as possible. The same goes for my second book.

Did you attend conferences or seminars prior to publishing your book?

Aside from taking a few creative writing classes at a junior college and earning a scholarship from an essay I wrote for an English professor, I had almost no formal training in writing prior to becoming a published author. The one exception is a small writing workshop I attended about fifteen years ago that way hosted by ANWA (American Night Writers Association) in Mesa, Arizona. This was a birthday present from my mom, who didn’t want to see me give up on my dreams. Not only did I get to meet several authors whose books I enjoyed but the most important thing I came away from with that workshop was learning that it’s perfectly normal for a writer’s characters to talk in your head. Until then, I had thought there might be something wrong with me. No, I’m just a writer. LOL

How many publishers did you pitch to before getting accepted?


How did you learn about your current publisher?

I own several books that have been published through Cedar Fort, so after I finished writing Pierced by Love, my husband helped me find their website along with other publishers’ websites. I decided to try Cedar Fort as well as another small publisher for the first go-around, and then I’d research a few more after that. I received an offer to publish from Cedar Fort shortly before I received a rejection letter from the second publisher. 

It was all very exciting for me. But while I haven’t had to go through numerous rejection letters like many writers do, I’ve learned that people can reject your writing in lots of different ways. And the way to approach bad reviews, friends not wanting to read your story, etc. is the same way to approach rejection letters from publishers. Thinking of it as them not being the right audience for your story helps to ease those disappointments.

How do you write? Do you do an outline first? Did you do individual character development before doing the full plot?

Before I started writing the story, I basically knew the temperaments of my main characters. I knew that I wanted Pierce to be a guy who dates lots of girls and Noelle to be a fun, spunky kind of girl who’s sorely disappointed after her boyfriend decides to become engaged to her sister. Fleshing out their family members’ personalities was a little more difficult. Since I write inspirational fiction, my husband suggested that I give Pierce’s younger brother, Gage, a spiritual crisis so that by the time I wrote his story in The Matchup, he had a pretty big chip on his shoulder over some things that had happened in the past. I decided to pair him with a really sweet woman whom he’d known while in his teenage years. Valerie’s character is more like myself. In fact, her struggles with raising an autistic child closely match my own.

So even though I’m not much of an outliner, I know the general direction that I want to take a story. My current work in progress has been more difficult for me to write, so I have outlined with this one more than with the others. And then I’ve discarded outline after outline until I finally feel like the story is heading in the right direction. Sometimes writing is like that.

What type of publicity do you do to promote your books? What has worked best for you in generating sales?

I try not to keep track of sales if I can help it. I do a little bit of tracking on Amazon and Goodreads, but I’ve learned that tracking sales can make a person crazy. However, I engage in many different marketing venues. Social media is my strongest area of marketing. I’ve joined writing groups that help establish connections with other authors. Facebook and Twitter are great for spreading the word about books. I also belong to a writing group that meets once a month called Typeractive. We’ve put together an anthology called Typeractive Tales that I feel showcases our very different writing styles and genres. Our Typeractive group also hosts a small writing conference in Mesa in October once a year. 

Unfortunately, book signings are money-drainers. With the superb presence of technology, it’s so easy to interact with your favorite authors and people don’t feel the need to go out and meet authors anymore. At least this has been my experience, although I love to meet readers face-to-face.

What did you learn from writing your first book that helped you in the second?

Having good beta readers is a must! And family members don’t count. You want a fellow writer who can tell you where your story’s pitfalls are. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this until I started working on my current WIP.

What do you know now about writing/publishing that you wished you had known sooner?

The list is too long to name. But just a few: keep your characters real and consistent, adding a great plot twist is only good if you can tie up loose ends at the end, and if you aren’t planning to tie up loose ends but continue the saga past the first one, make sure you have the next book in the series written and (almost) ready for the reader to purchase by the time he or she finishes reading the first (this is especially true for Indie authors).

What surprised you the most in becoming published?

The time that it takes for a book to go through the publishing process, the cost of a good book cover, and the fact that most authors don’t really see much of a profit on their hard work.

What other books or works do you have in the process?

I’m currently working on two novels, both inspirational YA. The first is a story of two high school teachers who go head to head over a student athlete and the other involves a newlywed couple who need to be rescued from themselves in order to make their marriage work. My goal is to complete the first draft of the high school story by the end of this summer and send it off to beta readers soon after.

What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?

Learn all you can about the writing process. There are limitless articles about writing that you can read for free online. Take advantage of this virtual library and study the craft. But don’t forget to write for fun because if what you’re writing isn’t fun for you, it will show on the page.

Any last words you’d like to add?

I just want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my experiences with your readers. Never give up on your goals.

That's it for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Laura's current books and upcoming works, here's some options.

1 comment:

  1. I was especially ibterested in what she said about a plot twist.

    Thanks for another informative blog entry.