I ran across Laura Pauling's blog a couple of months ago and instantly became a fan. Her posts are fun, and Laura is extremely considerate of other writers. After one of my first comments, she emailed me personally to further answer my question. For a busy mom, blogger, and writer, I thought that was pretty impressive. Laura writes Middle Grade and YA, and is in the middle of the querying process. She's also learning all she can about self-publishing, which she shares on her blog every Wednesday.
I'm very grateful Laura took the time to answer my questions, so enough of me. Here's Laura!
Q: Tell me about what got you started writing. Have you always wanted to be a writer? Did you write in school?
I was a stay-at-home mom in need of a creative outlet. Need I say more? Quilting got tedious (and I kinda sucked at it). Scrapbooking was too expensive (and I always fell behind). I think that after loving to read my whole life, creating stories was the obvious next step.
Why Middle Grade and Young Adult? What is it about those genres that draw you?
Powerful Middle Grade stories like Where The Red Fern Grows and Bridge to Terabithia affected me and stayed with me much longer than any adult books I’d read. And I love the fast paced plots and the more powerful literary YA.
You were a teacher - how did that influence your writing?
I can’t say it influenced my writing other than choosing to write MG and YA. I had to read children’s literature books in college and teach them and recommend them so…
You've gained quite a following on your blog. What's your social media secret?
Ha ha! Thanks for the compliment. But I’m still a mini-blogger in the world of social media. I don’t have any secrets except see what posts bring more hits and steer in that direction. I try and keep my blog unique, useful, and updated. I help promote others. And I work hard but don’t let it take away from my writing.
Have you attended any writing workshops or conferences? If so, how have they helped?
The main conference I attend is the New England SCBWI, invaluable for networking, talking shop, and leaving inspired. But most of my growth in craft comes from reading books on writing, studying published books, and practicing.
One of your recent Wednesday posts was on the constant changes in publishing, which I loved. Since you're in the query process, are you to the point of considering self-publishing?
I am seriously considering self-publishing but not with the MG book I’m querying. My series of blog posts on the changes in the publishing industry are a result of my research. The changes happening are fascinating. And as writers, we all need to be informed and make the decision best for our career goals.
How has the query process been? In my opinion, one of the pros about querying is the potential for feedback from agents. Have you received any?
The query process? Exhilarating. Exhausting. Time-consuming. Exciting. Discouraging. Encouraging. It’s all those things combined. I receive more quality feedback from agents/editors at NESCBWI. But a form rejection is powerful feedback. Of course, not the kind we want. ☺
How do you juggle writing time with family time?
I write during the day when my kids are at school, and I read/write at night after they are in bed. When they were younger, I wrote during naptimes and Barney. (Yay for Barney!) (Now my kids sing gory spin-offs of the Barney song.)
What's your favorite thing to do with the family?
We love to have cook-outs during the summer at the lake, cross country ski in the winter, or just hang out and play Apples to Apples. Of course, there are many times when we are all reading. (And my husband sleeps with a book in his lap.)
Is writing your escape, or do you view it as a job?
I totally view it as a job. One hundred percent.
E-reader or Paperback?
I prefer paperback but I have an e-reader. I buy the format that is the least expensive. If I know I’m going to love a book, I buy the print copy.
What are you reading right now?
I am gobbling up self published books as research. Addison Moore’s Ethereal and Tremble, Megg Jensen’s Anathema, and I have several others on my Kindle. I also can’t wait to read Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. This list could go on forever. Seriously.
If you could only have one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Impossible to answer. Instead I’ll tell you that if I could only have one flavor of ice cream for the rest of my life it would be chocolate peanut butter.
And finally, what advice can you give to new writers?
I used to dislike the advice read, read, read, and write, write, write. But in hindsight, it really is the best. But, for something more concrete, I’d say read Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and start breaking down published books for structure. If you’re struggling with first chapters, find openings you love, break them down, and apply to your own writing.
Hey, thanks for having me!
Thank you so much, Laura! Good luck on your query process, and I look forward to your Wednesday posts. Like many of us, I'm trying to decide whether to self-publish or query, and your posts are a great way to gain a better understanding of how things are changing.