Monday, October 10, 2016

A Visit with Laurel Garver

Please join me in welcoming author Laurel Garver! This lovely and talented writer is here to share about her latest book, Almost There. Her blog, entitled Laurel's Leaves, offers a great assortment of info and wisdom for writers. If you haven't ever visited, I encourage you to do so. You'll be glad you did.

Welcome to Write Now, Laurel! Congratulations on your latest book, Almost There! Where did the idea for Almost There originate?


This story picks up roughly 18 months after my first novel, Never Gone. Among other things, I wanted to explore how the protagonist Danielle and her mother would manage long term without her dad there as a buffer and support. I realized their very different ways of grieving would make the mother/daughter relationship become topsy-turvy, with Dani wanting to be an agent of healing for Mum — to essentially parent her parent. So this story looks at what it’s like to have tremendous love but limited wisdom, and how God meets us in those places where positive change seems impossible.

I also wanted to continue exploring how the difficult people in our families — like Dani’s cranky grandfather — often have a story behind how they’ve become that way. Learn the story, and you can begin to move toward that person with more understanding and love. Hearing my parents’ stories when I was a teen was definitely the inspiration for that particular theme.

 

Challenges and difficult people - it sounds like a good book that readers of all ages might relate to. What sparked your interest in writing for the YA audience?

Young adult books were what got me hooked on reading. Madeleine L’Engle’s books in particular most attracted me to the genre, especially how her characters clearly came from a churched background, but the stories didn’t feel like plodding morality tales. Her brainy misfit teens struggled to do the right thing when it’s hard, clearly making choices informed by their faith. Those stories were very life-giving to me.  So I wanted to create books like those I enjoyed reading at that critical time in my life, and further, to encourage kids of faith dealing with deeply dysfunctional families.  

I think many readers are hooked during the young adult years. What a great way to introduce them to quality books - write one! :) Do any of your main character Dani's traits mirror your own? 

Dani resembles me in internalizing a lot, having a runaway imagination and sarcastic streak, and being intensely emotional.

Those traits might mirror many of us writers. (Or maybe that's just me? Lol) What advice do you have for writers who wish to self-publish a book? Is there anything you know now that you wish you'd known before you began this process?

Networking with other authors is essential. As much as self-publishing seems suited to a lone wolf mentality, you can’t get far without others ahead of you in the journey who can educate you, encourage you, and champion your efforts. Finding your niche in the indie community can be very creatively empowering, helping you discover new strengths as well.

I wish I known from the beginning of my publishing journey what a powerful networking and book marketing tool Twitter would become for me, and that I hadn’t been so intimidated by it. I still feel like I’m playing catch up in trying to build audience through social media because of my reluctance to be active there initially.

Good advice! And much appreciated. What's on the horizon writing wise for you? Will Dani's story continue in a Book 3?

I’m working on a Christmas novella that takes place between Almost There and my first novel Never Gone, told in alternating points of view from both Dani’s and Theo’s perspective. It’s their first Christmas as a couple — and the first anniversary of Dani’s father’s death — so the pressure is on for Theo to find the perfect gift.

I have several nonfiction projects in the works as well, including a fun collection of writing prompts that is nearly complete.

Thanks so much for stopping by to see us. Wishing you well on your journey! :)

Thanks so much for having me, Karen!

About Laurel  

Laurel Garver is a Philadelphia-based writer, editor, professor’s wife and mom to an arty teenager. An indie film enthusiast and incurable Anglophile, she enjoys playing word games, singing in church choir, and taking long walks in Philly's Fairmount Park. You can follow her on her blog, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

About Almost There  

Genre: Young Adult Inspirational

Paris, the City of Lights. To seventeen-year-old Dani Deane, it’s the Promised Land. There, her widowed mother’s depression will vanish and she will no longer fear losing her only parent, her arty New York life, or her devoted boyfriend.

But shortly before their Paris getaway, Dani’s tyrannical grandfather falls ill, pulling them to rural Pennsylvania to deal with his hoarder horror of a house. Among the piles, Dani finds disturbing truths that could make Mum completely unravel. Desperate to protect her from pain and escape to Paris, Dani hatches a plan with the flirtatious neighbor boy that only threatens the relationships she most wants to save.

Why would God block all paths to Paris? Could real hope for healing be as close as a box tucked in the rafters?

Available here: Amazon  /  Barnes and Noble  /  Smashwords  / Apple iTunes  

Did you begin reading books during your young adult years? What were your favorite YA books? Do you have any questions for Laurel?

Happy writing,
Karen

25 comments :

  1. Congrats to Laurel on her book. So agree on the importance of networking, though I don't really get how people are doing it with twitter.

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    1. Thanks, Natalie. It took me quite a while to really engage with Twitter--like three years, so I totally hear you on that. But if this super reluctant user can get the hang of it, pretty much anyone can. I've blogged about my best Twitter tips here: http://laurelgarver.blogspot.com/2016/04/building-twitter-following-as-author.html.

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  2. Natalie,
    Thanks for coming to see us! I'm with you on the Twitter thing. I use it more these days but haven't grasped all the benefits. :)

    Laurel,
    Thanks again for visiting with us. Appreciate you sharing that link about Twitter. Will be checking it out! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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    1. Thanks for having me, Karen. Hope you find my Twitter post useful.

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  3. A difficult topic but a very real one.
    I still have no idea what I'm doing on Twitter.
    And when I was a teen, there were no young adult books. I went straight from kids' books to adult science fiction and fantasy.

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    1. Thanks, Alex. Tough family dynamics are the reality for many--I approach it with hope informed by faith.

      It has taken me a long time to feel comfortable on Twitter and I am pretty hopeless with my Facebook author page--perhaps I should make that my 2017 resolution.

      I know what you mean about the dearth of YA for guys back in the day. The earliest books in the genre were contemporaries with female leads. Boys had lots of great MG adventure stories, then nothing. It's nice that is at last changing, thanks to a host of new authors on the scene.

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  4. It sounds like Laurel has a lot going on in her writing. That's wonderful. As to Twitter. . .a mystery to me.

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    1. Thanks, Lee I hear you about Twitter. It took me a long time to get to a comfort level with it.

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  5. Thanks for the interview. Laurel's blog provides some great writing tips. I'll have to check out her books. :)

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    1. Thanks, Susan. While my protagonist is a teen, readers age 13 and up have enjoyed my books.

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  6. Nice to meet you, Laurel, and thanks, Karen for another good interview. Laurel has hooked me with the idea of exploring family struggles and difficult family members. I definitely want to read Almost There... :-)

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    1. Thanks, Kendra. It's an issue many can relate to, I expect.

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  7. Alex,
    Yes, a difficult topic, but one I think Laurel covers well. You should write some YA too! :)

    Lee,
    I agree, I think Laurel's on the right track. As for Twitter, I hear you. Check out the link she shared in the comments.

    Susan,
    Laurel's blog is a great resource, isn't it? Hope you get to read her books! :).

    Kenda,
    The topic is a good one! I think Laurel's books appeal to a larger range than just YA. Let us know what you think! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen




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  8. Thank you for the interview with Laurel, Karen. It was good to read about a writer who writes for young people! Susan

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    1. Nice to meet you, Susan. Though I write from a teen's point of view, plenty of adult readers have enjoyed my stories, too.

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  9. Hi Laurel, I love the sound of your book. Networking really is essential. It was good to see that stressed too.

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    1. Thanks, Lynda. I hope you check it out. :-)

      Indeed, networking is something you can't outsource, unlike so many other aspects of indie publishing. Besides, it's lots of fun!

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  10. Kids of faith can struggle just as much if not more with issues. May your stories make a difference to teens.

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    1. Thanks, Diane. In my experience, family struggles are just as common in faith communities as anywhere, but sometimes harder to discuss openly. I do hope my books help kids stuck in cycles of silence to feel less alone.

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  11. Hi Laurel and Karen! I love the inclusion of faith in this series. If I could ask Laurel anything, I would wonder if that was a conscious choice, or if the story and the characters drove the inclusion of the faith component.
    I am also a bit intimidated by social media, so I totally get the Twitter thing. I am on Twitter, but don't use it very much. Maybe this is a good reminder to keep up my social media sites!
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. Hi Ceil, nice to meet you. L'Engle was such a powerful influence on me, it would have been hard to write without the faith aspect coming out. It was important to me to present my character's faith life as natural, something that flows through her thoughts and decision making and actions--even her sometimes wrong-headed ones.

      My comment to Natalie up above has a link to a post I wrote with some helpful tips on using Twitter as an author--sort of best practices I've figured out through trial and error.

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  12. Susan,
    You are welcome! Glad you stopped by to see us. :)

    Lynda,
    It does sound like a good book, doesn't it? :) Yes, networking - no way to get around it any more unless you just don't do it!

    Diane,
    You are so right. Kids need help, and what a great way to address that, through a good book. :)

    Ceil,
    Social media is not my strength either. If you have a minute, check out the link Laurel provided in the comments. Her blog post has some great insight about Twitter.

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  13. Thanks again, Karen, for having me. It has been wonderful meeting your lovely blog readers.

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  14. Laurel! Hello! I should come stop by your place. It's been a while. (Speaking of social media, eh?)

    Karen, I'm glad you had Laurel here today. She's so wonderful and knowledgeable.

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  15. Laurel,
    You are most welcome! It was my pleasure. We'll have to do it again. :)

    Crystal,
    Glad you enjoyed your visit. I agree, Laurel is a smart and savvy writer. She always has helpful insight to share. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!