Between the Lines with… Debut Author, Laura Drake
Laura Drake is a city girl, who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women’s Fiction and Romance. The Sweet Spot, the first novel in her, ‘Sweet on a Cowboy’ Series, will be released by Grand Central in May of 2013, Nothing Sweeter, in December. Her ‘biker-chick’ novel, Her Road Home, will be released by Harlequin’s Superromance in August, 2013.
Laura resides in Southern California, though she aspires to retirement in Texas. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write, full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.
“From the cover and title you expect a sweet contemporary western, but this is a sensitive, honest look at a family destroyed by loss, a family that must try to rise from the ashes of their old life and see what they are now — different, certainly, but pieces or a unit? Drake’s characters are so real, and so like us, that you will look at your own life and count your treasures.”
–Romantic Times, Top Pick Review
Congratulations on making it so far on your journey towards publication. We are all so thrilled for you and your hard work has paid off. In the past, you haven’t been shy about sharing your previous disappointments. Can you share with us what kept you going in spite of them?
I believe it’s all about focus. When I got discouraged (and in 15 years, there was plenty of opportunity for that!) I’d try to remember why I started writing to begin with. And it wasn’t to sell a book.
I began writing for the pure joy of it – for the moments I manage to pull out the perfect sentence to describe a deep, complex emotion, or to do the characters in my head justice, when I got them on paper.
It’s so easy to get caught up in measuring yourself against an arbitrary yardstick that you created. But really, there are no stopwatches, there are no grades. When I got frustrated, invariably it was because I’d lost focus; this is supposed to be fun!
And yes, I still struggle with this – I think we all do.
You’ve had some interesting bits to share about your time management, particularly when you were still working a day job. Can you tell us about your writing schedule while you were otherwise employed?
I got up at 3 am, every morning, to write for two hours before getting ready to go to work (and weekends too.) Habits die hard (not to mention the ‘alarm-cat’ who has no reset button, and who bites me when I hit ‘snooze.’) I still get up around 3:30-4 am.
Of course, I’m a real drag at parties . . .
Part of what makes it easier for me is that I don’t watch television. No, really – with the exception of bull riding, I don’t. Think about how many hours a week that gives me to write!
But this too, makes me a real drag at parties. I’m totally clueless when someone starts a sentence, “Did you see DWTS last night?”
How did you stay motivated to maintain such a rigorous schedule?
Because I love to write. It’s what I’d do whether I’d sold or not.
I’ve never worked as hard at a day job as I have since I retired; 8-14 hour days, almost every day. Hey, that’s not so hard. If you show up every day, so does your creativity. I’m a big believer in schedules (okay, so I’m a little obsessive.)
How has life changed for you since retiring to write full time?
I have lots more time to write! And to build my platform, blog and Tweet, and…
Okay, I admit to playing Bejeweled some of those extra hours!
Can you tell us briefly about your writing process from idea to finished draft?
I’m a pantser with a serious case of plotting envy. I know the characters before I start. Then I sit down with a beginning and ending scene in mind, and find out what happens as I type!
I write slowly; 500 -1500 words a day. The next day, I go over what I wrote the day before. One pass with my amazing crit group, and I’m done. My goal is to be like Linda Howard – write, check it, and done. Not there yet (as my crit partners on Writers in the Storm will attest,) but it’s a goal!
What steps have you taken to improve your craft?
Classes, published author critiques, contests, pitching, blogs, craft books, etc.
But the teacher who made the biggest impact in my writing was Margie Lawson. If you’ve never taken a class from her, do your writing a favor. It took me from ‘good rejections’ to ‘Sold!’
How do you form, build and maintain relationships amongst other authors and industry professionals?
It helps that I’m an extrovert. I believe the learning curve can be shortened by learning from those who have gone before you. PRO is such a wonderfully supportive and fostering atmosphere. It’s so different when you sell –like walking into a pitch black room full of heavy furniture. Every publisher and every editor is different, so there are no absolutes.
I am a Twitterholic, I write for several blogs, and belong to several writing groups. I try to keep in touch that way, and at meetings of course. But those Saturdays are always too short!
What advice would you like to share with an aspiring author?
Don’t think you have to do it my way. Or anyone else’s way. You have to do it your way. And you can only discover what that is, by doing!
The following is my mantra: “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
Find Laura online: http://lauradrakebooks.com/