Cate: Readers, please welcome author Laurie J. Edwards. Laurie, will you please share a bit of background with us?
Laurie: Hi, Cate! Thanks for having me. I became a writer to deal with the stress of having five children under the age of seven. I signed up for the Institute of Children’s Literature (I highly recommend it!), and before I even finished the course, I’d made my first sale to Highlights for Children. I was hooked. I assumed getting published was a cinch. Ah, if only. As you and I both know, the rejections are myriad, but you have to keep hanging in there, honing your craft, and believing in that magical “someday.”
Cate: It seems your "someday" has arrived! You have two recent releases: a biography of the singer Rihanna and a story in the Summer Lovin’ anthology. Tell us about each and where they’re available.
Laurie: SUMMER LOVIN’ is a collection of love stories by six Climbing Rose authors about life on a ranch, summer jobs, sandcastle competitions, the tragedy of a flood, and falling in love with a rock star. My story in the anthology, "Summer Storms," is about sixteen-year-old Paige, who nearly drowns trying to rescue a Pomeranian trapped in floodwaters that sweep through her town. Chase, the hottie who saves her, wants to help her and her mother, but Paige won’t accept charity. And can she risk him unmasking the family secrets she’s kept hidden?
RIHANNA (PEOPLE IN THE NEWS) is about the R&B singer Rihanna, who loved to sing as a child, but had a rough homelife with a cocaine-addicted father. Discovered at age 15, Rihanna auditioned for Jay-Z and rose to stardom. My book offers a behind the scenes peek into Rihanna’s childhood, her rise to fame, her Grammy win, and some of the celebs she’s been connected with, including Shia LaBeouf, Timbaland, Maroon 5, and Chris Brown.
Summer Lovin’ will be available as e-book from the Wild Rose Press. The print book comes out July 10. The hardcover, library edition of Rihanna (People in the News) is for sale on Amazon.com as well as at the Lucent website, where the book is also available for download. And if you check out the ISBN, you’ll find it for sale in lots of bookstores around the world, advertised in many different languages from Finnish to Japanese.
Cate: Wow, that's impressive! Rihanna's very popular, so your bio is sure to be too!
You write across a range of genres: YA, YA romance, picture books, inspirational romance, and fantasy. Do you prefer any particular one over the other?
Laurie: YA is my favorite. It’s what I like to read as well. I’m also partial to picture books. Guess I’m a child who never quite grew up. I do enjoy writing for adults as well, but my heart is with kid’s books.
Cate: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Laurie: All of my children write &/or read. Two of my children majored in English in college. Over the years, they’ve all mentioned terrific book ideas they have. I hope they’ll put them into writing. My daughter and I plan to write a mystery series when she has a little more time. And my husband recently began jotting down humorous episodes in his golfing and motorcycling life. I’ve encouraged him to pull them together into books.
Cate: What inspires you in your personal life? In your writing?
Laurie: I think helping others inspires me the most. Actually, I enjoy helping others shape their work as much or more than writing my own.
Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Laurie: For me the hardest thing is getting started. I’m always procrastinating, making to-do lists filled with jobs that I have to complete before I can write. Often that means writing time never arrives. Once I do sit down, that’s the easy part. Usually, if I can work undistracted, I get in the flow and zip along. Then comes the time to break away—that part’s painful. Most days I wish I never had to stop.
Cate: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Laurie: Being a part of the writing community. I have never met a group of more giving, helpful, talented people. In many professions, you’re competing against each other. But writers—at least the ones I’ve met—always seem more than willing to share their knowledge and contacts. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of many talented writing friends.
Cate: Do you feel as if your characters come alive vividly as you write? Do they assert themselves in ways that surprise you?
Laurie: Most of the time, yes, to the first question, although I’ve had a few duds, which is why those novels will ever see the light of day. And my characters always manage to surprise me. Sometimes they’re more real to me than the people around me. Picture one of my kids tapping me on the shoulder: “Uh, Mom, you missed the exit again.” Me, blinking: “I’m not on the high seas?” Pop! My bubble bursts, and I’m no longer engaged in a sword fight with a burly pirate. Sigh… Reality intrudes, and I’m carpooling to a soccer game again.
Cate: What comes first in your writing process – a scene, characters, title? Are you a plotter or pantser?
Laurie: For me, the plot always comes first. Usually as I plan the story in my head, I end up with characters who start talking to me.
Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Laurie: Wow, this is a hard one. I love to read anyone & anything—from cereal boxes to billboards, from non-fiction to teen angst. At the moment I’m steeping myself in Chinese history—Ming dynasty, to be exact—to make my next novel historically accurate.
Cate: Ah, another research junkie! So what's next for you? Anything in the works?
Laurie: At the moment, I’m throwing my energy into picture books—both writing and illustrating. I’m attending an SCBWI Illustrators’ Conference the end of June and have an appointment set up with an art rep to review my work.
Cate: You’ve been working on a Graphics Arts degree. Do you expect to apply that to the publishing industry as a children’s book illustrator?
Laurie: I hope the art rep and the industry info I get at the conference will move me in that direction. Being a children’s book illustrator, perhaps someday winning a Caldecott, has always been my dream along with being a published author.
Cate: Any other hobbies or specialties?
Laurie: I love art, of course, and crafts of any kind—needlework, sewing, cake decorating. You name it, I’ve probably done it. Fencing, bellydancing, horseback riding, skiing, and soccer have been my physical activities over the years. I love to travel; my goal is to visit all the continents. Only two to go—Australia and Antarctica. Oh, and my latest venture is riding in my husband’s sidecar—much nicer than the back of the bike.
Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Laurie: My blogs: Laurie J. Edwards, my publisher, The Wild Rose Press and The Susquehanna Writers
I'm also on MySpace and my
Twitter screen name is LaurieJEdwards.
I'm also on Facebook as Laurie J. Edwards.
Cate: Anything else you’d like to share?
Laurie: I’ll share my favorite quote: "When you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life." ~Harvey McKay
I feel blessed to love what I do—even when I’m tearing my hair out trying to meet deadlines—because deep in my heart I know there’s nothing I’d rather do. Well, except maybe lounge on the beach on a tropical island.
Cate: I bet you'd be sketching a story outline in the sand! On a final note, is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Laurie: What is your favorite book?
I’m giving away an e-copy of Summer Lovin’ and names will drawn from anyone who comments. Wishing you all a summer full of loving and fun!!
Cate: Thanks so much for sharing your personal story today, Laurie! And double congrats on your double release!
Readers, you heard Laurie. She's giving away a book to a random commenter... so start commenting! She'll pick a winner on Wednesday, June 3 around 8 pm EST.
A former teacher and librarian, Laurie J. Edwards is the author of more than 850 magazine and educational articles in addition to her published books. Her work has appeared in national magazines, textbooks, testing materials, and online. In addition, she is a freelance writer and editor for several publishers, has ghostwritten books, and also writes under other pseudonyms.