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 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

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

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.

Think It’s Too Far To Drive To The Loft? Think Again!

by Kari Allen

This spring, I drove down to South Carolina with my family. It took about 15 hours. Which was still less than the amount of time I spent driving down to the Writers’ Loft for a six-week course that I finished in April.

I have attended a bunch of Saturday workshops and craft chats at the Loft in the past, but I had never committed to a longer course. I always talked myself out if it; it always seemed like it was too much time and effort. Time that I didn’t have or couldn’t allow myself to have. Coming from central New Hampshire, it would mean hours and hours in the car, not to mention arranging childcare and figuring out my family’s schedule. But this past March, I decided to sign up for a multi-week course and gave myself one of the best gifts I could ever have as a writer. Continue reading

Jacqueline Davies Dives Into the Creative Process

by Lisa Rogers

THE WRITERS’ LOFT WILL WELCOME award-winning author Jacqueline Davies on July 18 at 7:30 p.m. to chat about her creative process and tips for fellow writers. Lofter Lisa Rogers recently interviewed Ms. Davies for a sneak preview.

LR: As the author of several novels and nonfiction and fiction picture books, you must be very familiar with the mysteries of the creative process. How have you been able to unlock the key to some of those mysteries? Continue reading

Kendra Levin: Be The Hero Of Your Own Writing Process

by Lisa Rogers

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW. Every writer has heard that. But what does it really mean?

Our job as writers, Kendra Levin pointed out at her June Writers’ Loft workshop, involves a bigger challenge—it’s to “write what you emotionally know.”

Levin, an executive editor at Penguin Random House and a certified life coach for writers and other creative artists, presented the workshop “Be the Hero of Your Own Writing Process” to a Loft packed to its rafters. The workshop combined visualization, instruction, and free writes designed to help participants view their characters from different perspectives; try a genre, tense, or setting contrary to their typical habits; and solidify the purpose for telling the story. Continue reading