Welcome to another Friday Feature! The post where I interview a writer somewhere along their journey towards publication and beyond. My guest today is the fantastic Laura Pauling. I find her blog to be fascinating. No matter how little time I have to spend on the internet, her creative blog post titles always compel me to click over. Many times she connects writing with seemingly unrelated life topics; church, sledding in the south, the Olympics and American Idol. My favorite of all of Laura's excellent posts? The one in which she turns into a crocodile. Seriously. It's great. So, please make her feel welcome by leaving her a question in the comments, and visiting her blog on the way out.
Welcome, Laura! Thanks for being here today. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
You can read an official bio over at my blog. I'm a New Englander at heart and have lived in New England my whole life. Currently, I live in New Hampshire in the lakes region. I'm a mom (taxi driver). I'm a wife (picker up of junk in the dining room). I'm a friend. I'm active in church and teach children's church. And most recently, I have discovered a love for tween sitcoms and movies. (That's so Raven, The Suite Life, Wizards of Waverly place, Hannah Montana - how come they are so much funnier than adult sitcoms?) And obviously, I'm a writer.
So, Laura, what you are currently working on?
I am revising a middle grade contemporary fantasy titled, How to Survive Ancient Spells and Crazy Kings. Twelve- year-old Bianca and her cousin, Melvin, enter an ancient Maya city to rescue their grandfather. Simple. Really. Or so she thinks. But her grandfather doesn't want to leave and a wanna-be king wants to serve her up to the gods as an appetizer.
What made you start to write seriously?
When my subscription to Taste of Home ran out. When I realized that scrapbooking was wicked expensive and I couldn't do it in front of the woodstove because the ink from the pictures got all over my fingers. When I realized that taking on a queen size quilt was way too ambitious after only completing a wall hanging. Seriously. I needed a creative outlet. I had started stories over the years and never finished. I was a stay at home mom. I loved reading, and writing seemed to be the next logical step. But I gave it a lot of thought before I started. I knew it was a commitment. I knew it wouldn't happen over night. And I wanted to make sure. Once I decided, I got serious about it.
What stage are you at, currently, in your journey toward publication? And--how is that going for you? Has anything surprised you about this stage?
I am in the final revisions before I enter queryland. It's going well. I've got an incredible crit group that has really helped me with the logic and flow. Not too much has surprised me in any stage. I've learned a lot about revision. I used to think it was just polishing sentences and looking for typos in my first draft. Ha. Ha. Now I know better. Before I enter any stage, I scour blogs and books so I know what I'm in for.
Your process seems very deliberate. And exceptionally smart! If you had to pick one favorite blog, what would it be?
I love finding new writing blogs and meeting other writers, so I can't say I have a favorite there. But I guess, just like books, I'm attracted to the blogs where the person behind the blog is apparent. Where I find honesty, vulnerability, humor, and the writing isn't forced.
What is your favorite blog post that you have written?
Fortunately, I didn't have too many blog post to go through, since I just started blogging this past December. But my favorite is titled, Characters to die for.
What online resource have you found most helpful?
Camy Tang's Story Sensei blog helped me the most in my early years. Her writing tips helped me understand about terms I'd only heard but didn't know how to apply to my writing. Even though she writes for adults, writing is writing. But there are others: Verla Kay, Critique Circle, agent blogs, editor blogs....
What has been your biggest trial in writing?
All writers experience trials. But looking back, my hardest was after I received a really harsh critique. I can't say the critter was wrong. The crit was just, well, harsh. I continued to revise, but for a while I was plain old depressed. But as with all trials, it helped me to develop thick skin. And now I know which crits to throw out and which to keep.
Developing that croc skin is so important--and something that's tough to do. Laura--what tricks have you acquired to make you write or create when you don’t feel up to writing?
I usually don't have a problem with wanting to write or create. But if I do, it's because I'm starting a new wip or I'm struggling with a plot point. When that happens, sometimes, I just write through it, I work on something else, or I take time to catch up on my reading - while giving strict orders to my subconscious to start working on a solution. And sometimes discouragement can cause the love affair I have with my keyboard to fade, but I'm slowly learning to separate myself from the ups and downs and not take them seriously.
Tell us about a book that has impacted your writing life.
In my early years, yes years, Robert McKee's - STORY was a real eye opener. It is a technical book but full of wonderful wisdom.
What is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?
My practical goal is whatever is in front of me that day - more revisions, working on my synopsis or query, outlining a new story. My fantastical goal would be signing with an agent and selling a successful book. And I think it would be really cool to get a letter from a child who'd read and liked my book.
So far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?
That is a really tough question. Unfair really. I love learning new things. Whether its a leap of understanding in applying what I know to my writing, meeting writer friends, figuring out how to blog (still learning), or having fun with words.
If you could be a character in a book, and live within their world, what character would you be?
Authors put their characters through such awful torturous things, I don't really think I'd want to be a character in a book. But one of my favorite books is the Count of Monte Cristo because I love stories of unfair imprisonment and revenge.
And, just because I’m curious, coffee or tea?
Dunkin Donuts. Black. Cinnamon. I get lost in Starbucks. I have to tell the person behind the counter - "just a normal coffee, please."
Laura--again--thanks for doing this interview! I loved hearing about your writing process. Everyone, please remember to leave Laura a comment or question in the comments, and she'll stop by to tell us even more!