Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Larissa Hardesty

Welcome, everyone, to another Friday Feature!  I so love finding out more about the writers behind the blog, and the writing inside the writers!  And Larissa has a rockin' blog.  I first bumped into Larissa at Verla's blue boards.  She is genuinely honest and kind, and gives great feedback.  Everyone make sure to leave her a question or comment here, before checking out her blog on the way out!

Welcome, Larissa!  Thanks so much for being here!  Why don't you start by telling us a bit about yourself.

Thanks so much, Heather!  This is lots of fun! :)  I was born in South Dakota and raised in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, which explains why I now live in Florida. LOL.  I moved here to attend Rollins College, where I received my BA in music and elementary education.  I taught first grade for four years, then left teaching to stay home with my babies.  I have three children, now 7, 5, and almost 3.  Four years ago, I became a Creative Memories Consultant (a home-based scrapbooking business), and was asked to direct the children's handbell choir at my church.  The following year, we added an adult handbell choir.  Last year, I went back to teaching at the preschool level, and this year, I was asked to teach Sunday School, as well.  Oh, yeah!  And I write!  

So, my life is pretty boring. NOT.

Fun fact: I met my husband at Disney World while on a family vacation during my senior year of high school.  He was working for his dad at the silversmith booth in the Marketplace.  I spent the whole vacation with him, and he was part of the reason I decided to come to Florida for college.  We got married two weeks after I graduated, and our ten-year anniversary is coming up.

Larissa--what an interesting life!  What are you currently working on in your writing life?

I'm as eclectic in my writing as I am in life (did you see my bio?).  I have a MG Paranormal mostly complete, a YA paranormal started, a MG fantasy partially done, and a few picture book manuscripts to round it out.  Not to mention my idea file...

The one I'm working hardest on right now is the MG Paranormal.  LURE is about a thirteen-year-old boy who hates to read, and what happens when a book starts literally taking over his town.  It just needs a few more tweaks, and I'm going to start sending it out.  I recently won a local writing competition with it, too!  Yay, validation!

Very cool, Larissa!  I think I saw you float a query at Verla's for LURE.  It looked awesome!  What made you start to write seriously?

I had an idea for a picture book, and I decided if I was going to do this, I would do it right.  I joined SCBWI and went to my first conference that same week.  (That picture book will probably never see the light of day, by the way).

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 currently finishing up revisions in order to start my agent search.  I think what surprises me most is that you always think you're done revising before you really are.  ;-)

I'm right there with you on the hugeness of revision--it's such a long haul!  Thank goodness for the instant gratification of blogging, right?  If you had to pick one favorite blog, what would it be?

Oh, that's not fair!  I refuse to pick one, but I will narrow it down to five, not counting this one.  Except for #3, these are authors in various stages of publishing, but they are all extremely funny, supportive, and offer great advice and encouragement on their blogs.
1) Kiersten White - funny, nice, and awesome.
2) Carrie Harris - because she's snarfalicious.
3) DGLM - informative and interesting.
4) Lisa and Laura - Hilarious and super nice.  Also pretty.
5) Mike Jung - Who doesn't love Mike?

What online resource have you found most helpful?

Without question, Verla Kay's Blueboards.  Everyone there is so supportive and kind.  It's really amazing.

What has been your biggest trial in writing?

Aside from finding time to write (see bio), I think the subjectivity has been the most frustrating.  In the same week that I found out I won that contest I mentioned above, I got a query +10 critique that basically said I suck.  I'll get one person saying, "This is great!  I love x, y and z." and then another saying, "Hmm, I'm not really feeling x, y, and z."  It's enough to make you CRAZY.

Happily, I am finally in a place where I feel confident enough to take what I agree with and ignore the rest.  Not everyone is going to "get" or like my stories, and that's okay. :)

So far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?

Realizing that I really enjoy writing.  I had a sixth grade teacher who turned me off to writing.  She never had one nice thing to say about my writing, and it really affected me -- it took me 20 years to try writing for fun again. 

If you could create the perfect place for you to write in, what would it look like?

Ooh!  A smallish room with a window, the rest of the walls lined with bookshelves.  A very comfortable chair at a desk, and a couch, so I can go wherever I feel most comfortable.  Of course, this room would have to be soundproofed, and come with a lock on the door (three children are loud and love to burst in asking for stuff about every five seconds).

If you could be a character in a book, and live within their world, what character would you be?

I can't choose a character, but I would love to live in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar.  I would be a Herald, of course, with the gift of Fetching, and my Companion would be named Krista. :)

What other distractions are in your life?

Uh, I refer you again to my bio.  
Fun fact: I was distracted from completing this interview three times for a total of about 40 minutes.  First, 7yo son had a breakdown because his pants were all in the wash, and he just COULDN'T wear shorts to his Boy Scout event.  After 20 minutes of crying and realizing the event had already started and he was still sitting there moaning about pants, he finally (reluctantly and still crying) put on shorts.  Then, almost3yo daughter walked up with her hands covered in lipstick.  Yep, she'd gotten into my makeup bag.  I cleaned her up and wept a little at the mess she'd left on the bed (anyone know how to get lipstick off of a mattress?).  Third, I got both daughters a snack.  Whoops, there was  a fourth, just now.  Almost3yo daughter decided to make another mess with her snack.  I will now be washing the tablecloth.  Again.
What was the question?

LOL!  I'm no stranger to kid distractions.  And, just because I’m curious, coffee or tea?

Oh, coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.  And then more coffee.  With splenda and milk, in case you were wondering (no cream).

Thanks so much Larissa--I loved what you said about subjectivity.  It's great to remember that it's ultimately about them and not you.  It's so hard not to take rejection personally!  

Everyone welcome Larissa with a comment or question in the comment section.  She's planning on stopping by after work--in the afternoon--to answer anything you throw her way.  So go on, throw something!!  


  1. Lure is the coolest concept I have read for a MG in a looooong time.

    And I am snorting over the great lipstick caper of 2010.

  2. Another super interview, Heather. I liked how Larissa's answers were so balanced, how she can juggle several balls at one time and not lose her cool, even have a sense of humor. This is rare. I also liked how she's pragmatic about realizing she can't please all the people all the time. With such a positive focus, I'm sure she'll bring home the prize. Thanks to both of you for putting this interview together!

  3. Great interview! I love how she met her husband. I sense a YA chick lit book right there. :) And I'm so with Larissa on the frustrations of revisions and feedback. The worst is when your crit partners think it's ready (or the ones who don't think it's ready keep quiet) and agents have a different opinion. :(

  4. Lure sounds fabulous! And it is exciting that it is so close!

    So, even with all those distractions, (and believe me I feel you!) you must find time to write. When? How long are your sittings? Do you have a regular process?

  5. Laurel--I agree, what an awesome concept!!

    Kittie--hello! I agree, Larissa is a pro juggler. And funny!

    Stina--I agree, very frustrating. Writing is so full of ups and downs at each and every stage. And you could go crazy second guessing yourself and your writing.

    Tina--Great questions--I can't wait to find out how Larissa finds the time!

  6. Larissa--I love it when you say this: "I am finally in a place where I feel confident enough to take what I agree with and ignore the rest. Not everyone is going to "get" or like my stories, and that's okay. :)"

    I think that is so pivotal--to get to the point where you trust your instincts. To only listen to feedback that resonates. It sounds like you have found some good writing partners.

    I'm wondering about when you send your writing out for critiques. Do you get feedback as you are writing your draft, chapter by chapter, or after the whole thing is finished? I do a bit of both, and wondering where others fall on the spectrum.

  7. I love Fridays for this very reason!

    I second Heather's last question. I'll even flatter myself by assuming she was asking for me.

  8. Larissa, I agree with Stina, the story of how you met your husband HAS to go in a book!

    What you said about subjectivity really struck a chord with me. You're right that the exact things one person hates, someone else might love. It can be maddening! I think the only way to keep your sanity is to remind yourself of what your goals for the project are. Good luck with LURE - it sounds great!

  9. Hi everyone! :)

    Laurel - Thanks so much! The lipstick situation is definitely more funny now that the stains are covered. LOL.

    Kittie - Aw, thanks! I'm not calm all of the time, but I try. If I stressed about little stuff, I'd be stressed non-stop, and that's no fun! :)

    Stina - I totally feel you on that frustration. There are some fantastic rejection stories out there that I find very inspiring. Jay Asher's post on Verla's is just one example of multiple, multiple rejections ending in a sold (NYT Bestselling!) book. (I think Jill Corcoran recently linked to it on her blog about rejection).

    Tina - Finding time is really hard. Before February, I was only teaching three days a week, so I was able to write on my days off. But in February, I was asked to go to five days a week. I pretty much write at night now. I hand the kids off to the husband and go hide in my room.

    I've discovered I can do a first draft with the kids around. Something about entering that world for the first time allows me to block out distractions. But revising requires more concentration, so I need solitude.

    Since Saturday is my only day off, I try to stay up extra late on Friday nights, sometimes until 2am. I get a lot done then. I love that time. :)

    Heather - Thank you so much for the interview! This is fun!

    I do a bit of both, as well. I have a critique group, and we do two chapters every two weeks (with two people subbing at a time). They are great at catching line issues and showing me specific spots that need more description, better character development, etc.

    Then I have a couple of friends who beta read. They are great for seeing how well the plot works and the larger issues.

    Lure is especially hard because there is a suspense element to it. When I finish this round of revisions, I will probably post on Verla's for a new beta or two. I need to make sure I've added what was missing before without ruining the suspense, and those who've read it before already know what's happening.

    Jonathan - Hi! I hope I answered *your* question! :P

    Anna - Hey there! I'll have to think about writing that book... It is a pretty romantic story. :)

    Thanks so much! Let me know if you have any other questions. I'm off to Night of the Arts at my preschool. My class is performing THE NAPPING HOUSE. :)

  10. Great interview Ladies!
    You have lured me into DEFINITELY wanting to read LURE Larissa!

    Just one question as I'm weird and curious about those detaily things...what was the shade of lipstick that got plastered all over the place? You can tell a lot from the shade of a girl's/boy's lipstick you know!

    I agree with the others on writing something about how you met hubby. Is that a gorgeous story or what??

    Really enjoyed reading this!

    HUGS - Heather!

  11. Oh - and I just popped over to your blog Larissa and am your 69th follower!


  12. LOL, Ann Marie-- and *HUGS* right back at you!!

  13. OMG, Ann Marie! You are hysterical.

    If I remember correctly, it was a frosted mauve-y pink. After its adventures with DD, it had to go to lipstick heaven. :(

    Also, can I say that I ADORE you for including boys in the lipstick comment? ADORE. :)

    LMAO - 69th follower! Awesome. :D

  14. Great interview, Larissa and Heather. Lure sounds like a cool read! I wish you much luck with your querying and your other writing projects. And I agree, who could not llove Mike Jung. He makes me smile almost everyday! Thanks!

  15. Great interview! Thanks for hosting it, Heather, and thanks for the kind words Larissa (and Paul too)! Err, I suppose I should go post something on that blog now...

  16. Thanks, Paul!

    Mike - you are unquestionably awesome. :)

  17. Wow, meeting your hubby at Disney - (my happy place) is wonderful. Considering I make my husband drive me there every year.

  18. Great interview. Larissa- you are a never-ending supply of humor. I love all your little stories. And I'm glad you finally overcame the hurtful comments about your writing bc you're wonderful!

  19. Hey Heather, this is great. Just saw a post about it on YAlitchat. Nice. Glad to get to know you better, Larissa.

  20. Hi LM, Jessie, and Sheri! Thanks for stopping by!

    Jessie, you're so sweet!

  21. Hi Larissa! I know, I'm late. Story of my life... there's always horse drama...

    Great interview and good to meet you. Substitute horses for kids and your life sounds a lot like mine. Lure definitely has my attention!

    I hear you on the frustrations of feedback/rejections. The worst for me is when I get one that says 'Not for me, but not all agents will feel this way, it's subjective.' and it's the fifth or sixth rejection in a row that I've received with that EXACT line in it... I much prefer either a simple 'No thanks' or actual feed back (which rarely happens)

    The few requests for fulls that I've gotten which ended in passes were accompanied with reasonable explanations and suggestions, which made me feel validated even if I hadn't landed an agent.

    But keep writing no matter what! And do listen to yourself. You're the one writing the story and you know certain things about it intuitively, regardless of others opinions. It's a balancing act, but anyone who can juggle children, teaching, and a hubby from Disney World can do it! ;)

  22. A! Hi! This: "The worst for me is when I get one that says 'Not for me, but not all agents will feel this way, it's subjective.' and it's the fifth or sixth rejection in a row that I've received with that EXACT line in it... I much prefer either a simple 'No thanks' or actual feed back (which rarely happens)"

    EXACTLY. Once you've gotten a couple of those, it's clear they're just saying it to be nice/say something/keep weirdos from bugging them/whatever, but it feels patronizing. I definitely wish agents would leave that line out.

    Thanks for stopping by! :)

  23. You did answer my question, indeed!

  24. what a great interview Heather! Lure sounds like a great concept, best of luck with the agent search!

  25. Great interview. I so much enjoyed learning more about Larissa!

  26. Larissa - your book sounds fabulous! I wish you best of luck in your agent search. You've done all the right things and I'm sure you'll find one. :)

    Heather - thanks for the interview! Sorry I'm a little late stopping by!

  27. Larissa, you are exceedingly brave to mix tablecloths and toddlers!

  28. thanks for introducing me to another interesting writer.

  29. LOL, Anne - It's my husband's grandmother's table, so we don't want spilled-and-forgotten foods to ruin the finish. Apparently, I was more brave to mix toddler and yogurt. *sigh* Her teacher keeps telling me she's going to be a scientist....

    Hi, Jeff, Stephanie, Lisa, and Kate! :)

  30. What a fun interview! I'm glad I stopped by. Disney World is truly a magical place!