Meet A Lofter: Laura Woollett

by Sandra Budiansky

This month, we’re talking to Laura Woollett, a regular contributor at Loftings and a published author of the nonfiction book Big Top Burning. Laura also juggles a full-time job, writing, and taking care of her family.

Q:  Your first book is nonfiction, and I know you’re changing gears and working on a novel now. What’s different and what’s the same?

I love doing research and learning about different moments in U.S. history and what life was like for people. I’m now writing historical fiction set in 1800s Waltham, Mass., so I’m using many of the same research techniques I used for Big Top Burning. Of course, I can’t interview people, but there are some great first-hand accounts I can draw from to get a flavor of the time. One major difference is that I get to think up the characters and their problems. I love putting my characters into terrifying situations and seeing how they will react. Did I mention my new novel is also horror?

Q:  Are you a planner or a pantser? Also, do you enjoy drafting or revising more?

I’m a planner for sure. I have a complete outline for the book. It helps me to be able to dip in and out of my manuscript whenever I can clear bits of time for writing. I like different things about drafting and revising. Drafting is great because I can write complete crap and it’s OK. I will go back and fix it later. I’m an editor by profession, so revising is definitely where I’m strongest. Getting to the point where I have a draft to work with is the hardest part for me.

Q: What is some of the best writing advice you’ve gotten?

Don’t be afraid to write badly. You can always fix it later. Just get the words on the page.

Q: Do you want to tell us about what you’re working on?

I’ll give you my pitch: Inspired by Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Resurrectionist is about a scientifically impassioned mill girl in the 1830s who uses a new medical technique called galvanism to bring her best friend back from the dead. But when it all goes wrong, she must make a choice. Will she continue to “rebuild” her friend with body parts obtained by grave robbers? Or will she learn to let go of the person she loves most in this world?

Q: A favorite podcast of mine is How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black. I’m going to borrow from him and ask you about some things you find amazing.

  1. What is a book you find amazing? I love anything mysterious or macabre. (Are you surprised?) Libba Bray’s The Diviners is a masterful work of fiction. I’m also devouring everything by Gillian Flynn and Ruth Ware this summer.
  2. TV show or movie? I love the Netflix series Stranger Things. It appeals to my 1980s nostalgia and my love of horror. I also love The 100. I felt embarrassed when I discovered it is on the CW, a network aimed at teens. Guilty pleasure!
  3. Something to listen to/podcast or music? I don’t listen to music while I’m writing like some people. It’s too distracting for me. I do enjoy listening to podcasts about writing. Narrative Breakdown is good.

Sandra Budiansky is a co-editor of Loftings. She is perpetually working on a YA novel while dabbling in picture books and essays. You can usually find her sitting at the big table at the Writers’ Loft.

Learning “Fast and Furiously” with Karen Boss—Part 2

by Lisa Rogers

Following the runaway success of her picture book courses over the last year, Charlesbridge editor Karen Boss brings her amazing energy this fall to The Writers’ Loft with four workshops, a one-day class, and a four-week course.

The first two workshops focus on craft, the third on the publishing process from submission to publication, and the fourth on idea development. Then—fasten your seat belts—Karen offers a one-day Condensed Topical Thunder workshop, followed by Finding Your Thunder, a four-week deep study of picture books. Continue reading

Learning “Fast and Furiously” with Karen Boss—Part 1

by Lisa Rogers

Following the runaway success of her picture book courses over the last year, Charlesbridge editor Karen Boss brings her amazing energy this fall to The Writers’ Loft with four workshops, a one-day class, and a four-week course.

The first two workshops focus on craft, the third on the publishing process from submission to publication, and the fourth on idea development. Then—fasten your seat belts—Karen offers a one-day Condensed Topical Thunder workshop, followed by Finding Your Thunder, a four-week deep study of picture books. Continue reading

“Well, That Was Awkward” by Rachel Vail: A Discussion Guide For Writers

discussion questions prepared by Kelly Carey

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Rachel Vail puts a modern middle-grade twist on the classic tale of Cyrano de Bergerac in Well, That Was Awkward. Using text messages, Vail’s protagonist helps her best friend respond to a new love. Vail adds tension by giving her protagonist budding feelings for her friend’s new love interest, including a classic nasty mean girl antagonist, and providing parent drama. By studying Vail’s novel, writers can explore the opportunities presented by updating classic tales, the use of text messaging in middle grade novels, the effect of setting on story, and the balance of plot and subplot. Continue reading

Once You Have Readers, How Do You Keep Them?

by Allison Pottern Hoch

You wrote a book—and people are reading it! Or maybe you’ve published your first short story in a literary magazine with a greater circulation than your immediate family. Perhaps your blog is getting some extra views. How do you hang on to these interested readers and get them to come back the next time you have some fresh writing to offer?

Have a web presence

It’s critical to have an up-to-date, clean, and accessible web presence so that readers can find you online, connect with you, and feel like they are getting fresh information. Whether it’s a simple web page or a Facebook fan page, make sure it’s current. Continue reading

To Rhyme…or Not to Rhyme: An Event with Josh Funk

by Lisa Rogers

My great-niece just had her third birthday, and as she’s a huge Josh Funk fan, no doubt her birthday book package had to include his latest Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast intrigue, The Case of the Stinky Stench.

Of course, she loved it, not just because Josh kindly wrote a personal inscription on the title page, and not just because the book has an amazing fold-out page that provides her with hours of entertainment. She has an entire routine about how to navigate that page that her parents ignore at their peril.

The main reason she’s crazy about Josh’s books?

She loves the rhyme. And so does her mom.

“Those books have become my go-to gift,” my niece Angela told me. “They are perfect because they can be read over and over (and over!) and they’re great for parents who want to be entertained along with their kids.”

Angela was thrilled to learn Josh has several books coming out in the next couple of years, enough (perhaps) to satisfy her daughter and new arrival.

But what’s Josh’s secret? Every newbie writer is told to stay away from rhyme. It’s tough to do. No agents or editors seem to want it. How does one write rhyme right?

Josh’s success stands out. And he’s willing to share his techniques and tips. That’s the kind of thing that happens at The Writers’ Loft craft chats, and Josh is a great example.

At this year’s New York SCBWI conference, he was singled out for his generosity in promoting other writers, sharing information about what has worked for him and the nitty-gritty on marketing your book successfully (see his detailed recent post about that at http://www.24carrotwriting.com/-blog/josh-funk-shares-powerhouse-marketing-strategies).

So, to rhyme…or not to rhyme? When is it right for your manuscript? To find out, get thee to Josh’s free craft chat at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, August 8) at The Writers’ Loft.