Where do you get your ideas?
As corny as this sounds, ideas are everywhere. I get them from the newspaper, talking to people, surfing the web, billboards, hikes in the mountains, my dog, my children, my husband, sermons at church, unsuspecting friends. Getting ideas is not hard. Deciding which idea will make a good story or novel and matching it up with a compelling character is tough. Putting it together so someone wants to read it is the real challenge.
How did you get started in writing?
I have always written. As I mention in my bio, I wrote my first book in college and deep-sixed it after one rejection. I wrote a Regency romance (inspired by my love of Georgette Heyer) and a police procedural mystery (greatly hampered by my complete lack of knowledge of police procedures) during my early years in the Air Force. For many years after that, my urge to write was subsumed into academic or professional writings. I edited a safety magazine for the military and wrote articles for that. While at Air War College, I conducted research and Air University Press published my non-fiction book, Winning the Retention Wars (2003). Other than a few poems, I didn’t write creatively between getting married (1993) and retiring from the Air Force (2004). I always knew I’d go back to it, though, when the time was right.
When I retired, I sat down and wrote a novel featuring an Air Force intelligence officer as the amateur sleuth. The first version was 120,000 words! Needless to say, my initial queries met with rejection. I revised and sent more queries. I repeated that cycle eight or ten times. After enough revision that you wouldn’t know the first draft was related to the final one (truly!), I found an agent. I’ve saved the 50 or 60 rejections I received (some, I’m convinced, from agents I didn’t even query who just wanted to get on the “reject Laura” bandwagon) so I can always remember the value of perseverance. To paraphrase Winston Churchill: Never, ever, ever, ever, never ever quit. Never.
I am grateful every day for the opportunity to re-invent myself in my early forties and pursue my passion. How many people get to do that?
What is your writing day like?
I’m usually up around 6 a.m., do my devotions, and walk the dog. I might check my email and read the paper if I have time. Then, I wake the girls, get them ready, and walk them to school. I get my tea and plunk my butt down in my office chair by 7:30. I write 2,000 words a day when I’m drafting, or until 12:30, whichever comes last. Then, I eat lunch and go to the YMCA to work out. I do writing- related business (update my website, answer emails, talk to my agent, etc.) until I pick the girls up from school. I try to turn off my computer when they get home and devote myself to helping with homework and piano practice, talking about their day and just being a mommy.
How do you juggle writing multiple series at one time?
I work my butt off. Seriously. I treat writing like a job. I work eight hours a day and give myself only the occasional day off or vacation with my family, like an employer would. Also, I’m lucky I’m healthy.
What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?
Sometimes it’s the solitude. Mostly it’s trying to promote one book while working on another. Promotion and marketing is a huge time sink that sucks up more time than you would imagine.