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Author Interview – LAURIE TOMLINSON

 

THE WRITER’S ALLEY INTERVIEW BLITZ

 

Likes: Husband’s dimples, daughter’s laugh, alliteration, foxes, Madea movies, Longhorns football and Rangers baseball, making lists, and trying new recipes – especially if I don’t have to do the dishes!

 

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Dislikes: Entitlement, snobbery, cap sleeves, the word “moist”, Claymation, and clowns. They all give me the eebie jeebies!

 

rem:  Welcome to my blog, Laurie. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

LAURIE:  I am one of those obnoxious Texans who still claim the Lone Star State even though I’ve lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for something like 90% of my life.

rem:  I’m the same way with Colorado; wasn’t born there and I moved away 28 years ago, but 16 years afforded me the claim to Colorado as my “other” home. (I live in SC now.) Tell us three things about yourself.

LAURIE:  1) I write contemporary romance with protagonists in their 20s and 30s. 2) I believe that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. 3) I could watch handlettering videos on Instagram all. day. long.

rem:  I am a list-o-phile—lists everywhere! Mini lists and master lists and lists OF lists… What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?

LAURIE:  Vanilla ice cream topped with Heath bar (for the moment) and a chocolate chip pudding cookie J

rem:  MUST.TRY.THESE.COOKIES! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

LAURIE:  Unsweetened tea for me! I love a nice tangy berry tea, chai, or a black tea scented with a touch of vanilla.

rem:  I also drink my tea unsweetened but don’t do flavors. I do, however, drink cinnamon hazelnut coffee (also unsweetened.) Vacation: beach or mountains?

LAURIE:  Yes, please. I pick mountains any day, preferably with a river or stream nearby.

rem:  I agree 100%! What do you do as a hobby?

LAURIE:  Cooking, especially when people I love are involved.

rem:  Me too! Gee, we have a lot in common! When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

LAURIE: Give me a broken and realistic character with compelling redemption, and I’m sold! My pet peeve in fiction is a character falling in love despite the knowledge that the other person is taken–even if he or she is truly single.

rem:  Yeah, hard to get into characters who have no substance—or faults. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

LAURIE:  For fiction, I always go back to the Harry Potter series. Nonfiction: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning and A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken are regulars in my rotation.

rem:  Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

LAURIE:  Robin! This is SUCH an unfair question! In my genre, it would definitely have to be Carla Laureano’s James MacDonald from Five Days in Skye or Becky Wade’s Bo Porter in Undeniably Yours.

rem:  I know! So many to choose from! What would you do if you weren’t writing?

LAURIE:  Let me preface this by saying two things: 1) I wouldn’t redo one second of my life or college career and 2) I can guarantee no one else will have this answer. If I weren’t writing and had unlimited time and money (and patience and youth) to go back to school, I would love to pursue an MD Ph.D. and do research in cell/molecular biology. Yes, I am the rare writer who is also a math and science geek!

rem:  I love science! And although I am not a math person, I don’t hate it either. I hope you get to pursue that degree someday! How long have you been an Alleycat? How did you become an Alleycat?

LAURIE:  About two years ago, I got a phone call from Pepper asking me to pray about whether I’d like to be an Alleycat. It had been on my writing bucket list since I discovered the website, so I was so thrilled. I loved the community from the outside and love it even more on the inside ❤

rem:  As an Alley Pal, I love all you gals “from the outside.” Tell us a little about your writing journey.

LAURIE:  I have been filling notebooks with fiction since I was a child but only really believed in my dream and decided to go after it in 2013. It’s been a rollercoaster experience for sure, as anyone pursuing publication can attest—but this year has been fantastic because it’s taught me that God is constant. When I’m working for Him, no rejection or setback or difficult storyline can take away the joy and love of writing.

rem:  Right there with ya! My current WIP is hear wrenching and therefore difficult to write, but only because of subject matter not because the story’s not there. (does that make sense) What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

LAURIE: My absolute favorite place to write was a coffee shop by my house that actually resembled a cave! But then they remodeled in favor of a clean, hipster vibe, and it totally took that coziness away. I’m still mourning. I usually write late at night in my office or on the living room couch, fueled by excessive amounts of Vanilla Diet Dr. Pepper, and to an eclectic soundtrack solely dictated by my muse J

rem:  How dare they steal away your cave like that! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

LAURIE:  My first two books were written out of order with no plotting ahead of time, so they were a hot mess to edit! Fortunately I have learned the error of my ways and developed a better organizational system to keep that from happening again. But I would also say the temptation to compare myself to others is always a struggle. Did this author do this theme/element/trope so much better than I ever could? I try hard to snuff out comparisons and what-ifs before they can gain any momentum because they aren’t productive or rooted in truth.

rem:  Ya, comparisons can be deadly! (hmmm, methinks there might be a plot lurking in that thar statement…) What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

LAURIE:  I love the community the most for sure! It was very liberating to attend my first conference and realize where my people had been hiding all this time.

rem:  Me too! This community of writers is a whole new world, isn’t it! As an editor, do you edit your own work?

LAURIE: Yes, but then I hand it off to trusted critique partners and beta readers. Even the most skilled and experienced editors need fresh eyes for their own work, in my opinion. If I ever self-publish anything, it will be edited by a paid professional for sure.

rem:  The more eyes the better! Tell us about your editing process and service?

LAURIE: When I edit my own work, I do an initial read-through and make notes for any substantial changes that need to be made, correcting smaller things as I go. I will rewrite chapters, fix story issues, etc. and then do more of a line edit where I reword things, make sure I have strong chapter endings/beginnings, my dialogue is paced well and realistic, and things like that. Before I press send, I always run spelling and grammar check to see if it catches any pesky typos I missed. For others’ work, it depends on what kind of edit they are looking for. My favorite focuses on spelling, grammar, and consistency/flow. Anything that jars the reader from the story has to go! I also love editing promo copy like proposals, synopses, and short summaries—as long as they aren’t for my own books! J

rem:  I’m a perpetual editor (I know, I know) and caught the “then-then” typo recently! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

LAURIE:  I would tell a new writer to find a solid community, read like crazy (in her genre and out of it), and write allll the words! Fear is a writer’s worst enemy, and it manifests itself in different ways, so don’t procrastinate or give in to the mind games! I would tell her not to get too caught up in reading craft books and blogs—not to wait until everything is “right” before she starts writing. I would tell her to not approach industry professionals (and especially not to publish on Amazon) until her work has received multiple rounds of trusted feedback and is gleaming.

rem:  Soooo much of which I didn’t know the first time around… Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

LAURIE:  People and that place between brokenness and healing where God is most tangible on this earth.

rem:  As authors we sometimes give our characters one or more of our personal traits. Have you ever taken on a trait of your character that you didn’t have before?

LAURIE: Sometimes when I’m doing a reread or am deep into edits, I talk like them for a bit after I’ve been working. Kind of inconvenient when I’m writing a snarkier character.

rem:  No, really? hee hee Because I’m an actress I’ll start reading in accent. Lots of fun when there are characters with two distinct dialects! (welcome to my brain!) Tell us a little about your current book? What is your current project?

LAURIE:  I just turned in my third book to my agent, so I’m between full-length projects right now. And I haven’t talked about this much yet, but I’m working on my first novella, still in the plotting stages! So far I know that it’s about a guy and girl who grew up playing neighborhood baseball together in the summers and reunite at a college alumni softball game. All of this is subject to change, of course J

rem:  Of course! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

LAURIE:  That no matter what their circumstances look like, not only are they never too far gone or too undeserving of redemption, but God is always good and was with them all along.

rem:  And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? He’s always with us. You’re a virtual assistant, too. How did that come about?

LAURIE:  I was a full-time book publicist for seven years before kids and enjoy working as a busy bee behind the scenes. It incorporates a lot of my skills and training, so I added it to the umbrella of my business last year. I love helping people reach their goals and do what they do best by taking some of the more menial tasks off their plate. Plus, it’s flexible enough for life with littles!

rem:  Key word—flexible! Critical for writers and moms (and grammas!) Anything else you’d like to add?

LAURIE:  Thank you so much for having me and the rest of the AlleyCats! J

rem:  Thanks so much for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

“Lover of all things intentional living, planner nerd, avid reader and writer, foodie, colored pen hoarder, SisterChuck, reformed know-it-all, singer, half marathoner, and sinner saved by a grace I’ll never fully comprehend. You can find me in a ponytail 99% of the time.”

 

Facebook – AuthorLaurieTomlinson

Twitter – @LaurieTomlinson

Web – www.LaurieTomlinson.com

Instagram – www.instagram.com/laurietomlinson

 

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Laurie Tomlinson, The Writers Alley, Author Interview, Chat Thursday, Editing, Critiques, Copy Edits, Virtual Assistant

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Long story, for another time, but this blogger is fading even as I write this post…..

 

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EDITING AS YOU GO

 

Hullo, All, and welcome!

 

I’m a rebel. I break all the rules. Or not. See, I know the rules, and I know what I can get away with! Hey, that’s kind of dangerous, isn’t it?

 

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I can’t recall ever seeing anyone endorsing editing as you go; rather, what I do see all the time is, write the first draft, and rein in your inner editor.

 

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Imagine if you will, adopting this concept to building a house. I’m not talking about paint colors or hardware options like doorknobs and drawer pulls. But things like which way the door swings—and yes, that can make a huge difference—have to be correct before a designer can move forward. Or wall thickness. If a designer drafts an entire floor plan (which is technically beyond the scope of an interior designer’s responsibility, although this designer enjoys that part of the process) but if a designer drafts a floor plan with the wrong wall thickness, then the whole thing is off. Room measurements won’t add up, a bathtub might not fit in the space indicated on the plan. Take stairs, for instance. The rise and run of the stairs takes up a specified amount of space. Standard is an 11” tread and a 7” riser. But what if the drawing indicates a 9” tread and an 8” riser? How many stairs to get to the second level? Or the basement? How much space does each stairwell take up in the plan? Because it could obstruct a door or take away from precious square footage in, say, a small kitchen.

 

 

 

Okay, back to writing. What if I write a bit, and talk about the pink roses. Then later, I forget about the pink roses and all of a sudden my main character’s favorite flower is daisies, and she hates the color pink! Which by the way, is the case with the lineage of characters in my unsavory heritage series; they all like daisies, the pretty white Shasta ones, and they all can’t stand the color pink. Or, as was the case recently in my current WIP, I discovered I had named three different people Hugh. And while that’s a violation of character naming 101, and while I do break the rules, this is not one I wanted to even bend, not in this instance; it was just too confusing. So, two fellas suddenly had a name change! (Norman and Horace) See what I mean?

 

 

 

One of my pet peeves as a reader is when an author mentions a trait or characteristic or detail, a street name or pet for that matter, then down the road, chapters later, it’s different. (not casting stones, I’ve done it; see above) [confession: I also take a degree of wicked glee in knowing other authors are subject to the same foibles as this relative newbie!]

 

I’m fairly OCD, which works to my advantage in design, and in writing, for this reason. Works against me in a lot of ways, too… LOL

 

For me, though, my brain won’t move forward without those niggling little details lined up like ducks in a row. And Yes, I take a plethora of notes.

 

 

 

This is not the same as what I call “go backs.” Also called by other terms, this is my designation for it, and it is what it says it is: it’s a note I make for myself, [IN CAPS & IN BRACKETS] to indicate something I need to go back to, something that needs attention, bit of research, or decision making, like city or street (research) or naming a pet or style of car (pondering.) There are other specifics that can’t wait, especially when writing historical fiction, which I’m now dabbling in. Like what healing herbs were used in 1867 to help with pain? And when I was writing my own story (sorry, not publishing it) I said my mother was playing with her baby dolls and her Barbies. BLARING BUZZER SOUND! Barbies weren’t around when my mom was a little girl. I know this because Barbie and I are the same age.

 

 

 

As a plantzer, I’m constantly reading back through what I have written, to get my head into the flow of the story, to pick up where I last left off. And I cannot keep going when I see a little—or colossal—faux pas; reference the “Hugh” debacle above. And although the experts all seem to chant, don’t do it, I just can’t help myself!

 

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What about you, as a writer, do you edit as you go? Or do you shovel all the sand into the sandbox first and then go back and build your castle?

 

 

 

 

 

 

rem

 

“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”

 

Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013.  Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas.  Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity for many years.  Her characters face many of these same demons.

 

Ms. Mason has lived in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She lived in Colorado for sixteen years, during which time she: went to high school, got married, had babies, got divorced and went to college. Her “babies” are now grown, two have babies of their own.  She currently lives alone, with her five cats.
Ms. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.

 

Tessa and Clara Bess, books 1 and 2 in her unsavory heritage series, are both available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. The third book in the series, Cissy, will be available in September, 2016.   Ms. Mason also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, http://maryblowers.com, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal anthology of poetry to be released in 2016 as well.

 

 

 

 

Edit as you go, Stories by Design, Editing, Pantser, #coffeecoffeecoffee, Rebel, Break the Rules, OCD, Go Backs, Ducks in a Row, Original Barbie, Sandcastles

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