Wednesday, August 11, 2010

FEATURE AUTHOR: Laurie Alice Eakes

Award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes does not remember a time when books did not play a part in her life; thus, no one was surprised when she decided to be a writer.

Her first hardcover was an October, 2006 Regency historical from Avalon Books and won the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency, as well as being a finalist for Best First Book. She has also sold other books, articles, short stories, and essays.

A graduate of the Seton Hill University Master of Arts Degree in Writing Popular Fiction, she is an experienced speaker, making presentations at local and national RWA conferences, as well as universities, schools, and libraries.

She lives in Virginia with her husband and assorted cats and dogs.

How did you start out your writing career?

I was teaching high school and had the summer off, so sat down and wrote a book. It took me about six weeks and I did everything wrong, but it was fun. I didn’t pursue writing seriously for several years after that, but that rather got down on paper—literally—what I’d wanted to do since I was quite young—be a writer.
When I did get serious, I got into writers groups, went to grad school to get my MA in Writing Popular Fiction, and…got started.

What did you learn while writing this book?

While writing The Newcomer, I learned that I could write even when I didn’t feel like it, that writing isn’t about how one feels; it’s about putting one’s posterior in the chair and writing. I had an extremely tight deadline. It was the fourth book I’d written in thirteen months, I’d made a cross-country move, and was generally burned out. But I had a contract and a deadline and had to do it and did.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

To write something a little deeper than the surface seems like. It’s heartsong, and they can be fluffy, and I didn’t want to write fluff. I wanted to deal with loss and grief and pride and submitting to God. I’d just finished writing my first trade-sized novel, which will be out in February of 2011, so had that deeper mindset already.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Isolation. Writing is a solitary profession, I live in a town where I really know few people, and I don’t really have a way to meet them because my job keeps me at home. I don’t mind being alone…most of the time, but think writers need human itneraction since we write about people.

If you had the opportunity to talk with three writers, who would you choose and why?

Sadly, two of them are deceased—Georgette Heyer and Patricia Veryan. The why is obvious—they inspired me to write and taught me about great books, wonderful characterization, adventure… For a third author? Hmm. I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one more. Seriously. Depends on what I’m reading, I think.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

How hard writing one book after the other is. One doesn’t get a break and can’t just write when the muse strikes.

That being a writer is so very much more than writing books. It’s marketing and editing and filling out forms and networking and reading galleys and…

People don’t automatically like or respect you just because you’re published. Sometimes, it’s just the opposite.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Write. It’s the best advice I ever got. Just write and rewrite and make it as perfect as you can.

Don’t force publication. With a gazillion small presses and low-cost self-publishing options out there, people tend to take those when they get impatient. God’s timing is perfect, so hang on until the contract you sign is truly the one you want.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?

An office overlooking the ocean. I’d like to be on the second floor so I could step out onto the balcony and breathe in sea air, listen to the surf… Or maybe time travel back to the time periods in which I write.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

It’s a job. I keep office hours. I can be flexible, but it is a job and I have responsibilities. People think because I work at home I can just drop whatever whenever. Nonwriters think it’s a hobby, not a career. I get paid to do this; I don’t pay anyone to publish my work.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

If you persevere, write a marketable book, and have talent, you will sell, so keep working hard.

The worst advice was probably that getting published is really impossible unless you know someone, so don’t bother trying.

If you could visit any place in the world where would you travel to?

Scotland. I have been to Europe three times, studied there as a college student, but never have I been to the UK.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Watch science fiction TV series straight through on DVD, things like Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9.

Our theme for this month is STAYING OUT OF THE SLUSH PILE? What advice would you give someone to make sure their manuscript stays out of the slush pile?

Besides writing a book that is marketable and what the publisher likes, yet different? Get an agent. Except to some category publishers like Steeple Hill and Heartsong, Getting attention without an agent is getting harder and harder.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

That God loves me and nothing can change that.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I’m excited about my next book. Lady in the Mist is my first Trade paperback and comes out from Baker/Revell in Febrary of 2011. It’s the first book in a series in which all the heroines are midwives in the early 1800s.

Although still single at twenty-four, Tabitha Eckles follows in the footsteps of her mother, grandmother, and women in her family for more than five generations—she is a midwife, the best medical care of any kind available for twenty miles, since the deaths of her mother and grandmother. Her profession takes her out and about during all hours of the day or night, and makes her privy to secrets she'd rather not know. Marriage seems doubtful. Two years earlier, the love of her life vanished. She gave up praying for his return within six months. Within a year, she gave up praying at all. She is independent and lonely, and spends too much time walking along the seashore, wishing a man she can love will step out of the mist. But when one does, he turns out to be a better candidate for villain than for hero.

The younger son of an English nobleman, dominick Cherrett was expected to follow family tradition and go into the church. Feeling no vocation, he set out to live a life of which the church would disapprove too much to ordain him. His antics lead him into more trouble than he anticipated, leaving him with his father's option to run the plantation on Barbados, or his uncle's suggestion that he sell himself as an indentured servant in order to settle on the Eastern Shore, fit in with the local community, and discover who is selling American young men to the British Navy. If he succeeds, his uncle will buy his indenture and Dominick can redeem his reputation. Failure means four years of servitude at best. The worst is death.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

I’m active on Facebook, have a blog, and a web site that should be updated by August.

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