You might be familiar with one of Laurie’s books—her debut novel, A Kiss Before Dawn, (which was a finalist for a Ann Bannon Readers Choice Award) and her second novel, Right Out of Nowhere—or with some of her beautiful photographs that she posts on Facebook.
Laurie has a degree in Natural Resources Conservation and Outdoor Recreation, which she probably put to good use for her second novel. Her newest novel, Positive Lightning, will be released in early 2014.
She and her wife, whom she legally married in 2011, celebrate thirty-two years together today! Congratulations to you both!
So now let’s take a look at Laurie’s life as a full-time writer.
How long have you been writing full-time?
I started writing my first book, A Kiss Before Dawn in 2009. So I guess you could say since then. I lived in New York State at the time and owned/operated a horse-boarding farm. In between chores and general upkeep of the place, I found time to write.
What was the process of moving into full-time writing for you?
Honestly? I had to get rid of some personal baggage before I could even think about writing, let alone start to put a story together. I’ve never made it a secret that my family was anything but ideal relations. One day, I just decided I’d had enough of the manipulation, backstabbing and just general crap they constantly threw at me. I realized I wanted me more than I wanted them. So one morning I woke up and decided I was done. It took about two weeks for me to “recover” from that decision. Suddenly a story began to gel in my head. I became nearly frantic to get it down on paper and see where it led. That’s how my debut novel was born.
Do you write every day? Do you give yourself weekends or days off or vacation time away from writing?
I try to write every day, however I may not necessarily be sitting in front of my computer, and could quite possibly be cleaning stalls or some other outdoor chore when an idea hits. I’m not very strict about giving myself time off. If I feel I need a break, I take it. Sometimes I feel guilty, but most of the time it works to my benefit…sort of like putting the pieces of a puzzle together in my head. It eventually comes together for the perfect fit.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
I get up at 5am nearly every day. Even weekends. The dogs don’t recognize weekends so if I’m lucky I may get a half hour more sleep, but that’s pushing it. Once the dogs are fed, I head out to the barn to feed the chickens, cats and three horses. That usually takes until just after 6am. Back in the house, I generally clean the kitchen before grabbing a coffee and sitting down at the computer. I’ll open my current work and read what I wrote the previous session and then get to work. After working for a couple ours, I get up and move around, maybe go outside and take the dogs for a walk.
Do you have a daily word-count goal or a set number of hours you spend writing?
No. I find that puts too much pressure on me. I write until I’ve said what I need to for the day.
Where do you write?
Most of the time at my desk. I face a window that looks out onto the horse pastures, and a door with a huge window in it to my right that leads into the backyard. On nice days I’ll take my computer outside and write under the trees. I’ve also written in the barn to completely immerse myself in the smells and sounds of the horses.
How did family and friends react to you giving up your day job to become a full-time writer?
I think my wife thought it was just a phase I was going through. Something to pass the time. It wasn’t until I started talking about finding a publisher that she was less skeptical.
How much time do you spend promoting your books, including blogging, social media, etc.?
It varies, really. Photography is one of my hobbies, so I post a photo on my Facebook wall every day. Depending on the release dates, I may or may not say anything about my books. That said, by posting a photo, it keeps people aware of my work. There is no formula or set pattern to when I post a blog. When I write one, I have to “feel” it wanting to be written. It has to ache to come out. I don’t post one, just to post one. I need to have something to say. I’ve made appearances locally and out of town. Having as many animals as I do, it oftentimes hampers my ability to travel very far away from home.
What’s the best thing about being a full-time writer?
I can do something I love and still make a few cents. There’s definitely no dress code to adhere to when I go to work, and I make my own schedule for the most part.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a full-time writer?
Finding the discipline to not let outside forces pull me away from writing. When I worked outside the home, my job pretty much dictated I’d work 4 hours, take a lunch, work 4 more hours, and then go home. Sometimes it hard not to be sidetracked by the lawn that needs mowing, or wanting to take a horse for an all day ride.
Is there anything you wish you would have known before becoming a full-time writer?
I was lucky enough to be able to jump into full-time writing immediately. I wish I’d started sooner. But as with many things in life, maybe I just wasn’t ready to write a book until I was ready to write a book. smile
Make sure you can afford it. I’m very lucky to have a partner who can support me until such time I can make a living from writing. Having one book out won’t make you enough to pay the bills. Before you leave your job and begin writing fulltime, get a couple books out there and chart what you’ve made in royalties for a couple years. Then make your decision.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest novel?
Right Out of Nowhere was released this past March. It takes place in the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho. Roni Oatman is a member of a Search and Rescue team. She’s also in love with her best friend, who is also her brother’s wife. Selena Ayala joins the team and has to quickly become a trusted member. Between the wilderness and personal issues, Roni and Selena have quite the time dealing with each other and their pasts.
What books can we look forward to from you in the future?
Currently I’m working on the sequel to my debut novel A Kiss Before Dawn. The working title is In the Stillness of Dawn. The story will follow the same characters introduced in the first book, with a few new additions. After that, I have a few others in the stack: a couple romances and I’m going to try my hand at a historical romance. The hard part will be picking which one I want to write first.
Thanks for patiently answering my questions, Laurie, and congrats to you and your wife again!
Please check back on Sunday, when I will interview fellow author K.E. Payne.
Have a great rest of the week, everyone!