Laura Chapman is the author of The Marrying Type, Hard Hats and Doormats, and the Autumn and Tuck series featured in Merry & Bright and A Kind of Mad Courage. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Until she fulfills her dream of marrying a British husband or becoming a Disney princess, you can find her in a bar penning her next novel.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I always knew I wanted to be a writer—probably from the moment I knew books were a thing—but it was having a story I just had to tell that inspired me to start writing. I used National Novel Writing Month in November 2010 as a way to force myself to write a little every day. By the end of that first month I had 50,000 words written, and I kept going until that first draft was done.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured?
Ideally a day of writing begins with me waking up early and writing for more than an hour before I have to get ready for work at my day job. I’ll scribble some notes during lunch then write for another hour or two after dinner before I go to bed. This only happens a small percentage of the time, but it’s the goal. I also like to schedule one or two big writing weekends a month when I’m heavily invested in a project. Those usually mean four or five hours of writing on a Saturday and/or Sunday and a few changes of scenery to avoid getting bored.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I don’t get writers block so much as writers laziness. When I’m committed to a project, I will devote lots of time to it. But in between drafts and stories, I tend to get a little lazy. I try to avoid becoming too complacent with my writing by stockpiling blog posts or brainstorming new ideas or working on marketing projects during that downtime. Someday, if I’m ever able to write full-time, I’d like to decrease those pockets of laziness.
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story?
I’m a plotter, but I like to leave myself room for surprises. I know where my story will begin and end, then I sketch out ideas of how to get my characters from Point A to Z. This usually includes a character-driven outline that frequently changes as I write the story. After I finish the first draft, I sometimes shuffle scenes or add and delete them if necessary.
5.Are you traditionally or self-published, and what was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors?
I work with Marching Ink, which gives me the support of a publisher while also allowing me to maintain a lot of the input and control of a self-published author. This has been great for me, because it gives me the ability to write without having to deal with some of the technical aspects, but I also still get to be instrumental in how my story will be shared. The process has been different each time, but I feel like I’m getting better with practice. My biggest advice to aspiring authors is to be flexible and find opportunities that work best for you. No two people have to have the same story.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author?
There is nothing greater than receiving a quick note from a reader who finished your book and loved it. Publishing a new book is a lot like being the new kid in school. You want everyone to like it, so there’s a thrill that comes from knowing you accomplished your goal. Incidentally, there are few things that feel worse than having someone leave a nasty review, but those are part of life.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. My debut novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, is a coming of age story about a young woman in her first post-college job realizing that she needs to take a more active role in living the kind of life she wants both personally and professionally. My second novel, The Marrying Type, tells the story of a wedding planner who agrees to participate in a reality TV show as a way to raise money to save her family’s financially fledgling business. This unexpectedly forces her to cross paths with the one who got away. My third novel will be out later this year and focuses on a main character who finds herself caught up in a fantasy football league as an attempt to impress her new co-workers, only she becomes a little too invested.
8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? Hopefully my stories appeal to anyone who likes books about women coming out of their shells and into their own. I’m also a sucker for a good love story, so I can’t seem to resist throwing some romance into the mix.
9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time?
I love reading and watching movies when I get the chance. As I mentioned, I love romantic stories, so I tend to lean towards those in what I read and watch. I also enjoy baking, crocheting, following football, and listening to music.
10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.)
Be kind. This isn’t always easy, but I believe that the more positivity you put out into the world, including social media, the greater your return.
11.How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiences/ people? I’ll admit I borrow from real life, though usually in strange ways. I might throw in a line that I (or someone I know) once said or a personality tick than write something verbatim as it happened in life. For example, I used my experiences traveling for work to help tell Lexi’s story in Hard Hats and Doormats and my participation in fantasy football leagues to tell my upcoming story. I consider living research for writing.