Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Laura Pauling

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!


  1. Laura--Thanks for being here with us today. I love Count of Monte Cristo too. I know that you've entered the querying stage (or are very close). Do you have any advice for the waiting and wondering that happens during this stage? Have you found that next new project to start working on?

  2. "I'm slowly learning to separate myself from the ups and downs and not take them seriously." This may be the best quote I have ever heard regarding the writing process, thank you!

    I find your contradiction hilarious - I'd rather not be a character in a book, but if I had to it would be in CMC. I am not sure why that made me laugh so hard. Maybe because it's 7AM and that prison is one of the last places I'd ever be, plus I don't have the stomach for revenge. Not even when I'm driving. If someone cuts me off or almost hits me, I get embarrassed...

    Anyway, your comments on my blog have always been insightful and professional, it's funny to come here and see your ordinary beginnings. I can definitely see a NYT BS in you. Okay, questions:
    1. How many scrapbook albums do you have and how many are unfinished.
    2. How did you come up with the idea for HOW TO SURVIVE ANCIENT SPELLS AND CRAZY KINGS?
    3. Did you travel to Central America and tour Mayan ruins?
    4. When you came up with the idea, did you think it was dumb and that you really needed to get a grip on things or was it is THE ONE from the start?

    Great interview you two! Welcome to the roll, Laura.

    HAHA, my word verification is maggic.

  3. J- You should be asking the SAMS questions on your own blog. You do ask some great ones!

    Laura- It is lovely to read more about you. I agree with everything Heather said about your blog. The first post I found was the crocodile one. Loved it! Thanks for your thought provoking posts. You often get me thinking about writing and I love how the familiar things of reality tv and garbage cans become the tools for your explanation.

    Thank you!! Great interview both of you!

  4. I also discovered I was not a follower, until today, because I found your blog pre-Blogger's 300 limit days and when I went to add you they told me I was at my limit. Well, then I discovered GoogleFriendConnect and...sorry.

    I am now a proud follower of your professional-looking, double spaced, justified blog.

  5. Great interview, as always! Laura, I agree that being a character in a book means you have to go through some awful things! We're probably better off being real people. :-) I've been meaning to read STORY for a while - I'll bump it up to the top of my list.

  6. Hi Heather, Hi Laura, I really enjoyed this interview and added Laura's blog to my reader. I also write contemporary MG, although not fantasy. Happy writing!

  7. I absolutely LOVE that title! This was a fantastic interview, ladies! I read it twice. Thanks! :-)

  8. Great interview! Laura is fantastic. :)

  9. Great Interview! And I loved these words: "I'm slowly learning to separate myself from the ups and downs and not take them seriously."

    Good luck with the querying!

  10. Jon--Nice questions. I can't wait to hear Laura's answers.

    Tina--I too love it when Laura connects writing with things like curling. It's great stuff.

    Jon--I agree, Laura's blog is very professional.

    Anna--I hadn't heard about that title before today. I'm going to check it out!

    karen--Thanks for stopping by. Laura's blog is really fun. You'll enjoy following.

    Shannon--Thanks for reading! It was my pleasure to do this interview with Laura. She's wonderful.

    Elana--I agree, she's great!

    Paul--Those words struck a chord with me as well, and Jon too. Very wise.

  11. Thanks everyone, for the questions and comments. I know that there has been some crazy weather in Laura's neck of the woods, and I'm assuming that she's either very busy, or without power.

    Please continue to comment, and ask her questions--she'll be here when she can!

  12. Laura, I find many of your answers to be similar to mine! I started writing as a creative outlet while being a stay at home mom AND I'm too chicken to be any character but myself! :)
    Great interview, ladies!

  13. Omg, Kelly, you are a character that others strive to be!

  14. Great interview, Laura!!!! Thanks for letting us get to know her better, Heather.

  15. Loved reading another awesome interview here. Laura's take on not wanting to be a character was a riot! And I agree with Elana - Laura is fantastic.

  16. Okay, I'm finally here. I've been without power for about 24 hours. It's now about 9:30 at night. I tried to go to the library and use their computers, but our whole town is shut down!

    Here we go.

    Heather - I'll start querying in a couple weeks. And no, I haven't nailed down my next project yet, which is a big part of my discouragement and lack of purpose in my writing life. I have a couple ideas floating around and all I need is a big brainstorming session but we keep having snow days and I end having Monopoly sessions instead. The best thing for me while I wait is to get excited about something else. More excited than what I'm querying. :)

    Jon - I have several scrapbooks. But I've narrowed down to just doing a Christmas one and I'm several years behind on that. I recently changed my story over to first person and that's when I changed the title. I needed something to reflect the humorous first person narration. And I love those kinds of titles. :)

    Jon - No, I've never been to the Maya ruins. I'd love to though. I did an insane amount of research and founds lots of pictures on travel websites and History Channel specials. With this story, I didn't think the idea was dumb because it was one of my first ideas that I decided to completely rewrite. It's only now, that I'm a little better writer that I get stuck in thinking some ideas are dumb. Go figure.

    And thanks everyone else for you encouraging words. What an uplifting experience. Sorry, I missed it all day! Thanks Heather! And I'll now be stopping by all of your blogs to say hello!

  17. Thanks so much for mentioning me, Laura, and thanks Heather for this interview on your blog!

  18. Laura--I'm so glad that you guys got your electricity back. What a wild storm. I'm glad you and your family are okay! I hope you at least got a blog post out of it!

    Camy--it was my pleasure to host Laura's interview.

  19. Yay, Laura! I was worried about you. Glad things worked out. How many candles did you go though? Did direness inspire?

  20. Okay, I forget about that Google alert thing. Kinda cool that Camy stopped by! :)

    Thankfully, because darkness is depressing, my parents got power back first and so before it got dark I was over there. :)


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