Author Interview: Laura L. Zimmerman

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Would you tell us a little bit about yourself, Laura?
Absolutely! I’m an at home-mom of 3 girls–ages 14, 12 and 5. I homeschool the two oldest and spend the rest of my time writing. (Haha. That’s a joke for all those stay-at-home moms that have “lots of time” on their hands, right?) I’ve been married to my “Mr. Darcy” for 16 years–we met in YWAM where we both served the Lord for a few years. I love to write Middle Grade and Young Adult Fantasy and Sci-fi, and am excited to be a monthly contributor to the Almost An Author website for the Fantasy/Sci-fi column! I currently reside in AZ but grew up on the east coast in MD and PA.
When did you become interested in writing?
I’ve always loved to create stories! When I was little, I liked to make Fashion Plate drawings and then make up stories to go along with the pictures. I remember using my mom’s old typewriter and the frustration of making errors and having to use white out–then the excitement of getting to change over to a Word Processor in high school! Lol. Overall, stories have always been a big part of my life. It wasn’t until I was married with the convenience of a computer and time home with my babies that I found I wanted to start taking all those ideas I’d had over the years and actually try to write a book.
Do you have a special writing place?
Well, we moved a few months ago so I lost my official writing space–which happened to be in the spare bedroom/junk room! So now I store my writing desk in my bedroom. I had some back issues from sitting for so many hours, so my husband has insisted on ‘proper’ elevation of screen/keyboard/mouse. So it feels pretty official, anyway! 😉
What books or authors have influenced your writing? In what way did they influence your writing?
I want my writing to be the best it can be, so I’m one to take plenty of notes at meetings or conferences, and to read books on improving my technical abilities. But then I notice I focus too much on technical stuff and can forget my ‘voice.’ I would say the writers that influence me most have very unique ‘voices’ that help remind me to stay true to my writing style, even if it might break a few rules here and there. Authors that come to mind are Ingrid Law–who has a fantastic Middle Grade voice!– and Tahereh Mafi–her poetic style of writing breaks from the norm but makes the deepest parts of my emotion scream ‘yes!’ I also enjoy Lauren DeStefano who has a more introspective style of writing, and Jennifer A. Nielsen with her amazing ability at weaving mystery throughout her novels that make my jaw drop!
Who are some of your favorite book characters and why are they favorites? Have they influenced the way you create your characters?
This is a tough one for me because I don’t want to sound cliche, but ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ are my favorite books for a reason! Scout has always held a special place in my heart. She was an innocent forced to grow up and face the harsh realities of the yuck in our world. The powerful emotions she experienced through each lesson she learned hit me hard–maybe because I was just a teenager when I first read it. And Elizabeth Bennet is the every girl that we all deny lies deep within. She’s that spirit that refuses to conform yet can’t get out of her own way to allow love to find her. As much as I like to think I’m balanced in my beliefs and that I never play the part of the hypocrite, I think Lizzie is a good reminder that we all make poor choices based on our individual filters, but that it’s never too late for forgiveness and reconciliation. I do think both of these characters influence the characters I create, although maybe in different ways, depending on the story!
Do you have a writing routine?
Again, before I moved I had a fantastic routine of writing first thing in the morning! But now my youngest daughter is in kindergarten and I have her at the bus stop during the time I would normally write. So, unfortunately, I don’t have a routine at the moment. I do have a goal of writing and editing each day, and shoot for about 2 hours total of a mixture of both. Some days are better than others! Lol!
Do you set writing goals for yourself? What kinds of goals and are they short or long term?
Yes!! I have daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals! My personality thrives on meeting small goals along the way. I find when I have no ‘To Do’ list, nothing gets done. I love the sense of accomplishment that goes along with crossing off another item from my list! A daily goal might be as simple as “Tweet a line I wrote”. Long term goals usually involve the completion of a rough draft or a full edit of one of my manuscripts. For 2016 I’ve already written 2 brand new rough drafts and have a goal to complete 1 more, to give me a total of 3 brand new books I wrote this year!
Are you a member of any writing organizations or critique groups? 
Yes. In Pennsylvania I was active in the ACFW State and Local chapters, as well as Lancaster Christian Writers and Scribes Oasis. Since moving to Arizona, I’ve joined a small critique group one a week, and have begun to attend a library writer group twice a month. I’ve also connected with the ACFW Phoenix chapter here. I always have an eye out for new groups to join, since I am most encouraged just by being with other writers! 🙂
Have you attended writers’ conferences? 
Yes, I’ve attended the LCW Super Saturday a few years in a row and was excited to attend the Write His Answer Conference in Philly and Keystone Conference, last year. With my move, I’ve sadly missed the conferences I wanted to attend this year. But hope to jump back in this winter/spring with some conferences out west!
What advice would you give to a new writer?
Good question! Well, first off, I would say never give up. I’m sure you’ve heard that time and again, but really, don’t ever walk away from your talents. God gave them to you for a reason and they can be used to glorify Him, even if your work isn’t published in the traditional way. Also, surround yourself with those you admire! If you want to be a writer, make friends with writers! Not only is it encouraging, it will help hone your talent and make you better at what you do!
Thank you, Kelly, for having me! I had a great time with this interview!! ❤
Bio: 
Laura L. Zimmerman is a homeschooling mom to three daughters, and a doting wife to one husband. Besides writing, she is passionate about loving Jesus, singing, drinking coffee and anything Star Wars. You can connect with her through Facebook and Twitter @lauralzimm, and at her website, www.lauralzimmerman.com . Laura is represented by Cyle Young with Hartline Literary Agency.

Guest Post: The Drama of Writing YA

I’m taking a break from poetry today to bring you a special guest post by my good friend, Laura L. Zimmerman.

The Drama of Writing YA

Long after I left my “young adult” years, I continued to read the books out of sheer enjoyment for the genre. I’d slip through the doors of Barnes and Noble, duck my head, and sneak to the back of the store where all the newly released YA novels were displayed. I knew I wasn’t the only adult who enjoyed the genre, but somehow, standing between groups of thirteen-year-old girls felt a bit intimidating. Still that didn’t stop me from enjoying a good read.

Since then, there have been times when I’ve read a popular YA novel only to think, ‘Wait. That’s not realistic!’ or ‘Whoa. Serious mood swings!’ So it’s no surprise that as I began to seriously write YA, I’d aim to get ‘inside’ a teenagers head but would strive to think of a more mature response. Something I would like to read.

Except, I was completely wrong.

I know this first hand because an actual teenager who read my actual work called me out on it. Big ouch.

Months prior I’d given this fourteen-year-old family friend one of my YA manuscripts. She enjoys writing, too, so I felt confident she’d give me a balanced review of my work.

But when I asked for her response, it wasn’t what I expected. 

It was good, she said.

Oh.

Okay, she hadn’t said it was boring, or confusing, or a plethora of other nightmarish things that a writer never wants to hear. But ‘It was good’ wasn’t hitting it out of the ballpark, either. I asked if she could sum up what stopped it from being great.

Her response? Not enough drama.

My YA novel didn’t have enough drama in it. Oops.

Of course, I had to defend myself. (Right?) I explained that I was tired of reading YA novels with love triangles, or where the main character is wish-washy with all of his/her decisions. I wanted to speak to a more mature audienceone who didn’t want to play high school games.

Yeah, but a teenager doesn’t want to read that,” she said. “High school has drama in it. We’re teenagers. It’s what we do. A teen wants to read what they see every day. Not how they should act.” 

Oh. Right. Because they’re…teenagers.

And then it hit me: There is a basic formula for what makes a YA novel because it works. It has worked in the past. It works now. It will likely continue to work for as long as teenagers read YA. 

So, I went back and added a bit more theatrics to the story. A love triangle, a couple of lies, a few misconceptions between characters. Did any of it have anything to do with the storyline? Not really. 

But a little bit of drama goes a long way. 

A few years have passed since then, but each time I read a YA novel with a dramatic twist, I smile. That’s just how a teenager would act, after all. And that’s a good thing. For YA novels, anyway.

You can find out more about Laura at her website: www.lauralzimmerman.com, on Twitter @lauralzimm and Facebook.

Bio:

Laura L. Zimmerman resides in Phoenix, AZ and is a homeschooling mom to three beautiful daughters. She is thankful for a supportive husband, who is always quick to encourage her love of singing, reading, and drinking coffee. Laura enjoys writing young adult and middle grade fantasy fiction and hopes to encourage children toward a relationship in Christ through her work. Laura is represented by Cyle Young through Hartline Literary Agency.

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