Posts Tagged ‘author interview’

Author Interview – Laura Lee

November 11, 2014

Today I’m not posting about my own books, or talking about any of the ins-and-outs of indie publishing. I’m returning a favor by interviewing another Michigan author who was kind enough to tell her own blog followers about my writing adventures.

Today’s author, Laura Lee, not only plans to publish her next book as an indie, but already has quite a few traditionally published books to her credit.

Laura Lee, Author
Laura Lee, Traditional and Indie Author

Welcome to “Painting With Light,” Laura.
Thank you, Ron.

Laura, I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t read any of your work. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m mostly known for non-fiction in the humorous reference category. My best seller was “The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation.” Last year I did a book with Reader’s Digest called “Don’t Screw It Up.”

Lately, I’m more focused on fiction and other projects. My first novel “Angel” was published in 2011 and was released in audio format for the first time a couple of weeks ago. (I’ve found it is hard to find reviewers for audiobooks.)

I’ve decided to try the indie route for my next novel, “Identity Theft.” This is a new experience for me. I raised the initial funds on Pubslush, the literary crowd-funding site.

My campaign was both more successful and exciting than I had expected and also a little bit disappointing because I think I might have had more success reaching people outside my normal circle of friends on another, more popular, crowd-funding site. Live and learn.

Where do your ideas come from?
My non-fiction books have been a combination of ideas I generated and some generated by publishers. I like having books assigned to me and just writing them because I enjoy the process of writing much more than I like the process of marketing and selling the concept of a book.

I can’t say that I have a source of ideas for fiction. My novel “Angel” was initially sparked by a trip to Washington. I took a bus tour of Mt. Rainier and the entertaining tour guide kept talking about burning out on his old job. At some point someone asked him what his old job had been and he said “a minister.”

I kept coming back to the question of what would attract someone to both the mountain and the ministry and what kind of conflict might put him out of step with his congregation. When the idea that the character might become attracted to another man hit me the rest of the story followed naturally.

Early on, I wrote terrible fiction that was highly autobiographical. I’ve found I get much better results when I put some distance between myself and my story. I need some overarching concept to guide the story.

With “Angel” it was the metaphor of the mountain. With “Identity Theft” it’s the notion of personal identity.

I think it is a common misconception that a big problem for writers is coming up with ideas. For me, the more pressing problem is finding the time and energy to develop the ideas I have into finished products.

Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I’ve never been able to write from an outline. When I was in school, when you had to turn in an outline first, I always had to write the whole paper then go back and create an outline from what I had written.

For me the natural progression of writing comes from the writing itself. Of course, with non-fiction book proposals you have to create an outline. Then you write the book and it is always different from the proposal.

In terms of fiction, I generally do not start with a plot and write from beginning to end. I have ideas, I write scenes, bits of dialogue. At some point I have enough critical mass that I see how they fit together and I finish the whole book. I write in layers and the novels I have written have all taken shape over a period of years.

When do you do most of your writing?
Writing for me is a multi-stage process. So there is a period when you are writing down concepts and ideas. Then you realize that you have hit a roadblock and you go and do something else.

I will often pose the question to myself: What is missing here? Then I will go and take a shower or watch TV or read a book. At some point my subconscious will come back with the answer to the question and then I will go and write it down as quickly as I can before it escapes.

So I am constantly writing little things in notebooks and on scrap paper. A lot of times I will write down the rough notes and then polish it in the morning. I am a full time writer, so I write fairly constantly. I don’t find that a “morning pages” or “time for writing now” approach works for me.

Who (or what) inspires your writing?
My novels tend to be made up of various attempts at writing other novels. I will write something and put it aside and later get a new idea and suddenly something from the past will seem to fit in with it.

A number of years ago I worked in the office of the folk singer Arlo Guthrie, sitting under a gold record with a spider caught under the glass, and I was handed a stack of fan letters to answer. I tend to file away details like a framed gold record with a spider caught under the glass.

I thought that the idea of someone who was tasked with answering fan correspondence online, who decided to take on the rock star’s identity was an interesting concept for fiction.

The idea languished for a while, but I recently saw Adam Ant in concert. He was the iconic rock star for me … my junior high school idol … and the experience of seeing him years later got me thinking about the story again. This time I had the momentum to finish it. “Identity Theft” deals with a lot of the things I have been thinking about and reading about in the past few years.

Do you have any funny or peculiar writing habits?
Ideas seem to come to me like magic in the shower. I don’t know why that is.

What’s your favorite quote?
I like this quote by Philip Schultz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet:

    “To pay for my father’s funeral I borrowed money from people he already owed money to. One called him a nobody. No, I said, he was a failure. You can’t remember a nobody’s name, that’s why they’re called nobodies. Failures are unforgettable.”

What would you change about yourself, if you could?
I would have been born with a small fortune.

What do you find the hardest thing about writing?
I enjoy writing. What I find hardest is maintaining a career as a writer.

What are your plans for future projects?
My novel “Angel” just came out in audio and “Identity Theft” is coming soon. Beyond that, it will depend on what I am able to sell. I have a proposal for a biography that I am quite invested in circulating. I’ve written a stage play, a comedy, which has gotten some good feedback, but it has a relatively large cast which is a challenge in terms of getting it staged.

I have another novel, which is complete and has come close to being sold a couple of times, which I may put out after “Identity Theft.” I’ve also been having some conversations about more non-fiction. So, whatever someone will pay me to do next will be the next thing.

Thank you for talking with us, Laura.

You can find out more about Laura Lee on her web site, check her out on Goodreads or follow her on Twitter.


My readers know there is a lot of realistic Vietnam War reference in my novels “Reichold Street” and “One Way Street.” I think today is the perfect day to express my gratitude to all my friends who served or perished over there.

In fact, I’d like to thank all our military personnel, everywhere, including my father-in-law and my late father, for their service and sacrifice. We’re extremely proud of you.

As always, you can find my books as eBooks or paperback on Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble. You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Indie Author Interview – M.S. Fowle

December 18, 2013

Today marks a first for my blog. I’m not posting about my own books, or any of the ins-and-outs of indie publishing. Instead, I’m interviewing another indie author who was recently kind enough to tell all her own blog followers about my novel, REICHOLD STREET.

I think this is a wonderful opportunity to return the favor. So let me introduce M.S. Fowle, known to her friends as Mel, who has already written five books of fantasy.

MS Fowle
M.S. Fowle, Indie Author

Welcome to “Painting With Light,” Mel.
It’s such a pleasure, Ron! Thank you so much for having me! If there’s one thing I love about being an author, it’s meeting all these amazing people.

Even though we all have our own projects we’re working so hard on, we always find the time to help one another. Whether it’s offering advice in a short article on our blogs or hosting an author interview, it’s really a wonderful community of genuine people from various walks of life, all sharing a love of words.

We’d all like to know – where do your ideas come from?
For me, it’s usually some really strange dream I had. It’s probably only one little scene out of the whole story, but then that snowballs into this enormous thing. I’ve always had really weird dreams.

ms fowle books

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
I always start with a basic outline, but I hardly ever write that out to the end of the story. Once I start really writing it, then I just see where it takes me.

When do you do most of your writing?
At this point, it’s whenever I can. But usually, it’s at night, after everyone else is asleep. I used to be such a night owl, but not so much these days.

Who (or what) inspires your writing?
People-watching is a great way to inspire characters and their back story. Or a minor character from a book I’ve read or a film I’ve watched. Then, I mold and shape them into what I want, adding or taking things away here and there. But it always seems to be the second my head hits my pillow at night when my brain starts to really work.

Do you have any funny or peculiar writing habits?
I’m not sure you’d call them “funny or peculiar” but I always start my stories in my notebook, usually as vague bits and pieces of the story lurking in my head. Then, I don’t do anything with it for a while, sometimes for months.

I sort of let it “ferment” in there, working out various details. And when I end up with writer’s block once I start the full-on writing process, I work on digital art inspired by my story. That usually motivates me.

What’s your favorite quote?
A quote that puts a smile on my face would be from Mark Twain: “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”

But as far as inspiration and strength go, I believe Maya Angelou put it best: “I got my own back.” It’s a beautiful thing to have the love and support of others, but it can’t be the only thing holding us up. We need to be accountable for ourselves. Depending solely on others will only lead to our own downfall. I need to be able to stand on my own two feet.

If you could change something about yourself, what do you think it would it be?
Personality wise, I wish I could turn off my brain. I over-think the most mundane things, stuff no one can change at this point. I could turn-in for the night completely exhausted and still spend hours awake in bed just thinking. But in terms of writing, I wish I had flawless editing skills so I could save myself a lot of hassle.

What do you like to read in your free time?
In the off chance I actually get free time to read, I love just about any science fiction or fantasy. I love being swept away to some other world, either futuristic or magical or both.

It’s the ultimate escape for me. But even with that kind of favoritism, my favorite book of all time is “The Color Purple.” I can’t even count how many times I’ve read it and it still makes me ball my eyes out every single time.

What are your plans for future projects?
I have an urban fantasy series that I’m right in love with. I want nothing more than for that to be successful. I think it means so much to me because I based the main character on my lovely niece. I’m still debating whether to try and get it traditionally published or take the indie route, but I’ll need an editor either way. I just want readers to love it as much as I do.

What do you find to be the hardest thing about writing?
That’s easy – finishing my story! I don’t know what it is, but I feel like I’ve slammed face-first into a brick wall when it comes to bringing my books to an end.

Maybe I don’t want to say goodbye. Or maybe I’m just so worried about doing it “right” that I over-think it and get stuck. I can’t even count how many unfinished books I have still waiting for me to figure everything out.

OK – So what’s the easiest thing?
The opposite of the hardest thing, actually: starting my story. I love writing out that first chapter to get things rolling.

I know you design your own covers, and will do that for others. How do they contact you?
There are plenty of ways to find me! They can go directly through the website Melchelle Designs where they’ll find a contact form on almost every page.


Or they can email us at to talk about their needs. We’ve got plenty of premade covers to choose from, and I occasionally do custom artwork as well. One of the greatest compliments I get from authors is how easy I am to work with. I think it helps that I’m an author too, so I know what it’s like from their end of things.

And I love creating visual art just as much as we all love to write. That’s key – loving what you do.

Do you think the book cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Absolutely! And still, I wish it didn’t. There are plenty of amazing books out there that are ignored or take longer to get off the ground just because their cover art is “boring” or “hard to look at.”

That was one of the reasons why I started making and selling book covers. Every author deserves to have the right artwork to complement their hard work. They put their heart and soul into writing their stories – it’s only right that their book look its best when they send it out into the great, big world.

“First Night” by M.S. Fowle

Reviews for your book “The First Night” have been very positive. Most readers absolutely loved it, but I noticed one reader panned it. What’s your reaction to negative reviews?
I think my initial reaction is the same as anyone else’s: dread. But every author needs to remember that every book has bad reviews, even the best-sellers and classics.

The main thing is to make it a learning experience. Maybe that negative review points out some faults you could actually fix. Or maybe the reviewer is just trolling and trying to get a rise out of you. Don’t let it! Learn what you can from it and move on. Negativity just comes with the territory, no matter what profession you’re in.

Mel, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to take part in this interview!
Thank you so much for having me, Ron!

Good luck and have a Happy Holiday!



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