Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Laurie!
I note you’ve written eight novels. Tell us about your most recently published book.
Of course! The Joke’s on Me is the story of Frankie Goldberg, a former actress and standup comic whose life in Hollywood falls apart with an exclamation mark when a mudslide destroys her home. Hoping for comfort, she returns to her mother’s B&B in Woodstock, New York, where she spent her teen years making coffee, folding towels, and chasing after the handyman’s handsome son. Now she has to deal with the mess she left behind, her bossy older sister, her mother’s illness, and the family responsibilities she’s been shirking. And the handyman’s son is back in town…
Now that sounds like my kind of book! What’s next?
I’ve been publishing serial installments of a coming-of-age novel, Drawing Breath, about a teenage girl who falls hard for her upstairs neighbor, an artist and teacher with cystic fibrosis. It’s close to my heart because a friend died from the disease; he was one of my heroes for the way he lived his life. I’d like to complete that as a full novel this year, plus get a little lighter with another family “dramedy” in the same vein as The Joke’s on Me.
I do hope you finish it, Laurie. It sounds intriguing. You wear many hats in the publishing industry: published author, editor, blogger, proofreader, ghostwriter and freelance writer. Do you prefer any particular one and why?
I love them all for different reasons. Writing fiction keeps me whole and has literally saved my life. Otherwise, I’d be talking to myself on the street while randomly smacking people. I love the immediacy and conversation of blogging. Through ghostwriting, editing, and proofreading, I enjoy helping my fellow authors on their paths to publication. Freelance writing puts organic produce on the table. It’s all good.
“…randomly smacking people.” Thanks for the laugh, Laurie. I love your sense of humor. I’ve found that a good editor is worth their weight in gold. It’s so interesting that you are in almost all aspects of the literary field. Impressive! With a background in marketing, what have you found works best for you in regards to promoting your work?
My previous marketing career was basically behind-the-scenes: I handled the rest of the iceberg underneath the tip. I helped keep us organized, did the follow-up, made sure there were no typos in the sales sheets, double-checked that all the trademarks were used correctly. What I learned in marketing communications translates so well to book promotion. Behind every smiling author at a bookstore with a pen are a thousand minor details: writing, sending, and following up on press releases; getting the bookmarks designed, proofread, and printed; knowing your sales message inside and out; who to send it to, when, and why. There are a lot of spreadsheets on my computer!
I agree – there is so much more to being an author these days than simply sitting in front of a computer, writing. What book(s) are you reading at this time?
I just finished The Imperfectionists, a novel based on the short, strange life of the International Herald Tribune, an English-language newspaper based in Rome and now part of the New York Times. The author, Tom Rachman, worked as a reporter and copyeditor for the paper. Some of the descriptions are so pithy and perfect that I marked them as I read. And, of course, it’s impeccably edited! I’m also enjoying Valerie Douglas’ Servant of the Gods and JD Mader’s Joe Café. Both fabulous, and I love supporting fellow indie authors.
There are some really amazing indie authors out there and we at Dames of Dialogue strive to promote as many as we can. Who is your favorite character?
Jo from Little Women has always resonated with me. She doesn’t always say the right words or like fussy, girly things; she’s bold and true to herself. And, of course, adores books.
She’s also one of my favorites. I loved her when I read the book. If you had the opportunity to sit and chat with any author, living or dead, who would that be and why?
Oh, so HARD! I’d love to have lunch with Dorothy Parker and Jane Austen. Together. Just sit there and try to out-snark each other. Then I want to talk with Joyce Carol Oates about what inspires her to pump out so much astonishing fiction.
Great choices. Do you consider yourself a pantser or outliner?
Total pantser. I blob the whole story out, and then mush the lump of clay around to make the second draft.
I like that description. I usually put this question to our guests and it seems the majority of the authors I’ve interviewed are pantsers. I find that interesting. What’s the most important piece of advice you’ve been given as a writer?
I was lucky enough to take a writing workshop with romance author and agent Alice Orr, a really remarkable woman. She handed us all a piece of paper printed with the words, “DO IT ANYWAY.” I kept the paper near my computer until it got so grubby and coffee-stained I tossed it, but I’ll always remember the message. So the house is a mess, so you don’t feel like writing, so there’s something better on TV…DO IT ANYWAY! I don’t always listen, but it’s good to keep in mind.
So simple yet profound. I think I’ll start telling myself that…Tell us something about you most readers don’t know.
With apologies to my father, I’m a NASCAR fan! I used to make fun of my husband for watching it, because it just seemed like a bunch of guys pointlessly driving in circles. Then I started catching bits of it as I went back and forth, doing the laundry and stuff, and I eventually got hooked. Tony Stewart’s the dude!
Well, you belong down here with Southern gals, Laurie. Do you have pets? If so, please tell us about them. If not, what’s your favorite animal?
I adore and grew up with cats (I’m a kind of “cat whisperer”), but my husband has allergies. So I visit other people’s cats. Turn me loose at the zoo and I’m hanging out with the penguins. I’d love to see some in the wild.
Cats are truly unique pets. Our last one died a couple of years ago and I miss him terribly. He was such an affectionate pet and loved to gift me with dead snakes on my front porch which always freaked me out but I understood and appreciated the gesture. Tell us about your area of the country.
I live in the Hudson Valley, a couple hours north of NYC. It’s a breathtaking place. We have apples, beautiful autumns, and more writers per square foot than nearly anywhere else in the country. I know so many people who’ve left (myself included) and returned.
I’ve always wanted to visit the Hudson Valley, Laurie. Sounds ideal. Thanks so much for joining us here at Dames of Dialogue. For more information about Laurie: