Blog Swap with Laura Chapman
Today on my blog tour, I’m doing a “BLOG SWAP” with Laura Chapman, which means she’ll be posting HERE, on my blog, and I’ll be posting THERE (http://change-the-word.blogspot.com/), on her blog. Laura is an author and the co-host of Chick Lit Chat, the popular virtual discussion that meets Thursdays at 8 p.m. EST on Twitter. Participate in the fun using #ChickLitChat or by joining the Facebook group. She is also a board member of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy & Research Association.
Laura and I each came up with five questions for each other, and then answered them ourselves, too. I had a blast meeting Laura, and I hope you have fun reading her post today. She is a funny lady!
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get over it?
While I don't typically have long-term writing block, every day I fight a battle against the desire not to write. Sometimes, I give in and spend my designated writing time having a Game of Thrones marathon or crocheting while listening to an audio book. But on the days when a break isn't in store (and I highly encourage taking one if your body tells you to) I shake up my writing routine to inspire word count.
I often have great results when I ditch the laptop, grab a pen and notebook and go to a coffee shop, park, or even a bar to do some writing. This has a few benefits. First, I find a blank page inspiring and a blank screen intimidating. This means I’m more comfortable diving in and putting my thoughts down on the page. Second, starting a chapter or scene by longhand means I'll have to type it eventually. When that time comes, I find myself doing quick self-edits and expanding what was once a simple scene into something even greater. Third, it gets me away from the computer and out in public, which hopefully keeps me from becoming a hermit with strained eyes.
What's one thing you have to have (i.e. music, socks, juice, silence, etc.) when you sit down to write?
I find silence distracting (weird, I know), so having music or some other background noise helps. When it comes to music, I make a playlist for each of my stories before I begin writing. As it develops and takes shape I add songs to the list and my story gets its own soundtrack.
If I need to get lost in a scene, I'll select one song from the playlist and put it on repeat. This prevents me from being distracted by the song and instead helps me focus on the writing. It also serves as a way to set the scene. I learned this tip from an interview with Michael Schur, who sometimes uses this when writing NBC's "Parks and Recreation." I tried it once and have been hooked ever since.
(I'm actually listening to "Beautiful Disaster" by Jon McLaughlin while I answer these interview questions.)
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
I'm definitely into book stew. Not only do I stop and let a story stew after I write my first draft, but I frequently take week- or month-long breaks during that initial draft. I don't recommend this long of breaks by any means (and am trying to break myself of this habit). If I let it stew too long those breaks sometimes become permanent, and I need to knock that off. But, looking on a story with fresh eyes often enables me to see what is working, what isn’t, and I’m better able to determine how to fix the problems.
What's the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
I once attended a writing conference where Stephanie Bond, a romance novelist and author of the Body Movers series, was the main speaker. She said she didn't believe in writer's block, because her mortgage broker doesn't let her use that for an excuse. If you want to be a working writer who earns a living from your work, you have to treat it as a job and work it every day. It’s challenging, but I keep those words in mind on the days not writing a scene, updating my blog or ignoring my social media becomes tempting.
On favorite reads:
You're stranded on a desert island and can't take an e-reader. What three books do you take with you?
- Saving Grace by Julie Garwood. This was one of the first romance novels I read back in middle school, and something about this story -- maybe having a strong woman character not afraid to prove herself, a strong but sensitive type leading man, and plenty of hearthrobbin' moments -- makes me re-read it almost every year. And on a desert island, Laura is going to need something to keep her strength up.
- I'd try to sneak my Jane Austen anthology as one book, but if I had to pick one (size limitations?) I'd grab Pride and Prejudice. It's a classic for a reason.
- These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read it when I was 9, and have re-read it countless times. As a little girl I considered this the most romantic book ever. To this day I still consider Almanzo Wilder a literary stud. As I've grown into being a young woman, I found myself appreciating Laura's own struggles becoming an adult and having to work through tough situations and finding joys in the little things. That's a great lesson I'll need to remember if I'm stuck on an island.
What literary character from would you like to have as your best friend?
Hands down Tom from Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. He reminds me of one of my best friends, and a girl can never have too many people reminding her that she's fabulous while also calling her out on her B.S. when she needs it.
What literary character do you find most crushable?
As I mentioned, I'm a sucker for Almanzo Wilder, but since he's based on a real person... I'm going with Capt. Wentworth from Jane Austen's Persuasion. I know, I know. Mr. Darcy is a total babe, and I definitely wouldn't kick that proud gentleman out of bed for eating crackers. But my goodness I adore Capt. W.
You've read the letter he wrote to his long-pining lady love, right? With gems like "You pierce my soul. I'm half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I'm too late." And "I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant." Dude, I'm practically swooning here as I write this. Plus, the guy has a uniform. That automatically makes him and his broodiness extra sexy. I'm also a big fan of a guy who waits around even after you ditched him years earlier. I dig this guy so much, my second novel (tentatively due out in mid-2014) is inspired by the novel.
On our characters:
Who is your least favorite character in your book? What makes him/her unappealing to you?
In my debut novel, Hard Hats and Doormats (due out later this year), that character is Dale, the main character's douchey boss. The man is lazy, clueless, and a waste of space as far as I'm concerned. For anyone who has had the pleasure of working for a troublesome boss, I hope you’ll be able to relate to this man’s ridiculousness.
What would your main character think about you if you met in real life? Would he or she want to hang out with you?
Lexi Burke and I would find we have more in common than either of us would care to admit. Both of us have a history of traveling to industrial sites working for companies that confuse us. Both of us are left a little disenchanted by our respective career field right out of college, and we could commiserate.
We'd probably get in trouble together, because I'm persuasive and she's easily persuaded. After a night of a few too many drinks and karaoke we'd either be best friends and duet partners or frenemies. (Though, both of us would be too nice to admit our disdain to the other person.)
What sort of Starbucks coffee would your characters order?
Lexi isn't a coffee drinker. She's more of a pop girl for her caffeine fix and only takes coffee when she’s left with no other choice after a sleepless night of working late. But if she was stopping at a Starbucks between making site visits, she'd grab a citrus-flavored smoothie. She might even be able to pretend it was one of her beloved margaritas.
Thank you for swapping blogs with me, today! This has been a lot of fun – both to answer this collection of questions and getting to know you better.
Laura Chapman is a blogger and soon-to-be published author of women’s fiction. A 2008 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Laura studied journalism, English and history. She spent four years in corporate journalism, traveling the country as a writer/photographer, and currently works in marketing and communications. Born and raised in Nebraska – in a city, not on a farm – she is a devoted football fan, lover of British period drama and frequent bar attendee. Her debut novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, and a holiday novelette will be released later this year.