I am very VERY excited to post my first author’s interview with Laurel-Rain Snow. Laurel is the author of several books.
She was born in California’s Central Valley, and lived in San Francisco (during the sixties), Sacramento, and currently resides in Fresno and its surrounding areas. She attended colleges in SF, Sacramento and Fresno, earning a B.A. in psychology from CSUS and a Master’s degree in counseling from CSUF. Laurel spent more than thirty years doing social work, especially focusing on child welfare issues. She has four grown children and seven grandchildren.
When did you first decide to write a book?
That’s a difficult question to answer, since the “desire” was there for a long time—I started writing my stories when I was eight and I always talked about writing a book—I even started one when I was in high school. But the actual decision to sit down (at my new computer) and start pounding one out came in the year 2000, as I was winding down my tenure as a social worker for Child Protective Services. By then, I knew that I had some life experiences to share.
How did that process start to take form?
As I mentioned in the guest blog, I had started “Miles to Go” in the eighties, writing in long hand; I was trying to experience catharsis after a personal tragedy…but at that time, it was an untitled manuscript, which I then set aside. I picked it up again, completely reworked it, and began again. I wrote on the computer, finishing the first draft within six months. But then I kept going back and reworking it and revising it. Finally I began another manuscript, which I finished, and then started a third one. I would end up publishing my second, third, and fifth manuscripts before publishing “Miles to Go.”
How did you go about finding a publisher?
I bought some of those Writer’s Market books at Barnes & Noble, began perusing them—what a task!—and then I started sending out query letters, etc. Some of the publishers requested queries, a book synopsis, and sample chapters. Many publishers will not even consider submissions from people without agents.
Then, after sending out endless queries, etc.—after about six months, I guess—I received an “acceptance” from a small publisher in St. Louis, MO, for my novel “Embrace the Whirlwind.” This was the third manuscript that I had written. We went through negotiations, signed a contract, I went through a short editing process, and then I waited. Countless e-mails, telephone calls, and four-and-a-half years later—still nothing published! Finally, I heard about another publisher, a subsidiary of Amazon; they came highly recommended, and while I was hesitant at first, considering that this would be a “self-publishing” process, I had several conversations with them before signing up. They published my novel “An Accidental Life”—the second one I’d written—in September 2006.
By the way, that manuscript, plus revisions, took about nine months to write. But then I kept picking at it off and on…
After publication of “An Accidental Life,” I then submitted “Embrace the Whirlwind,” published in March 2007.
What was your first book published and how long did it take to write? How long after that until published?
“An Accident Life” was published in September 2006…it had taken six months to write the first draft, and I kept revising and picking at it—I call that tweaking!—until I finally submitted it for publication in the summer of 2006. It was published within three months of submission.
What does that feel like having that first completed published book in your hand knowing it is yours?
There is nothing like it in the whole world! I think it sent chills down my spine…and, of course, I was dancing like crazy. It seemed like a culmination of several lifetimes to have reached that moment.
Did your next books come easier?
Yes, in some ways…it was like I had already followed a road map to the final destination once, so the journey would be somewhat easier. But the actual writing—I guess I felt like I had a momentum going, so in that sense, it seemed that my fingers flew across the keyboard; yet “birthing” each book is like having a second, third and fourth (and fifth) child—no two “labors” are the same!
How many books do you currently have published? (And titles)
Are you working on a book now?
Yes. I began it shortly after the completion of my fifth manuscript, but kept putting it aside while I focused on marketing the novels. I also wrote some short stories, one of which is on “Amazon Shorts” (“Family Values”).
Then recently, I picked it up again, revised what I had already written, and started focusing. It is called “Irreversible Choices.”
Who is your favorite author and why?
I always have a hard time with this one, because I read so many authors and have so many favorites. I love Elizabeth Berg’s work, because she somehow captures those real-life moments, full of all the sensations of life, and brings the readers right into the moment—as if we’re living it with the characters. And I love all of Jodi Picoult’s work, because she highlights those dramatic real-life issues and brings them to us in a palatable form. Barbara Taylor Bradford’s “Harte dynasty” novels are true sagas, and she fills these tales with such vivid descriptions, I feel as if I have walked into the rooms and moved among the characters…I could go on. And, of course, there is Lisa Unger. Her suspense thrillers are truly chilling.
You should see my bookshelves! I love reading and I finish a couple of books a week—more, if I don’t care to sleep!
What advice would you give someone who someday hopes to write a book?
Persistence. Never give up. Keep revising, revising, and more revising…and keep submitting. And if, like me, you decide that you just can’t wait for the “traditional” route, don’t be afraid to find a good self-publishing company. If you read “Writer’s Digest,” you will learn that more and more people are taking this route.
Thank you Laurel for you insight on being an author and sharing your passion with us. Readers, please take time to check out Laurel’s books as well as her review of other books at her website, Reflections.