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.

Flash Fiction Friday: Beatings and Kisses

He never saw the punch coming. The punch was followed by another and another. Then he was knocked to the ground and kicked in the side before the screaming crowd turned and walked away, disgusted, disappointed.

“Why didn’t he fight back?” He heard a voice ask.

“Because he’s a coward.” Another answered.

Converse black canvas high top Chucks appeared at his side. He tried to look up into the face that went with the shoes but the sun glared in his eyes.

He sat up. She squatted down next to him in a pale pink skirt with white lace and a hot pink tank top. He could see her clearly now. She had black curls surrounding a heart shaped face. He saw sadness in her sky blue eyes and her bright pink lips were pinched in a bow.

“Are you all right?” She asked.

“Yeah. This happens all the time.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m smaller than him. Because I get better grades them him.”

“You just let him hurt you. Why didn’t you try to run?”

“The crowd would’ve never let me out of the circle. They like a good fight, even if only one person is doing the fighting. They want to see the blood.” He wiped blood from his lip and then from his nose.

She handed him a tissue from a small packet she had in her small pink purse that hung from a silver chain from one shoulder, over her head and down to the other side of her waist. She brushed a stray strand of hair back from his forehead as he held the tissue to his nose.

“I’m an outcast too. My clothes are weird and I chew bubblegum.” She stood up and reached a hand down to him.

He took her hand and stood up. “You’re pretty.”

She smiled. “My name’s Mandy.”

“I’m Julius, another strike against me.”

“I like it.”

She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Flash Fiction Friday: Summer Dreams

Lila sat under an umbrella on the beach reading a book. A volleyball landed by her feet and rolled up beside her knee. She put her book down and reached for the volleyball. Just as she was about to give it a toss, she saw tan feet attached to muscular legs stop near her toes.

A guy with curly black hair and marine blue eyes peeked under her umbrella and squatted down. “Hi, I’m sorry if our volleyball disturbed you.” He smiled, flashing perfectly straight, white teeth and deep dimples. His arms and chest reminded her of the marble sculptures of Adonis, the Greek god, in some museum her mother had dragged her to a few years ago.

She still hadn’t said anything, and the gorgeous guy stretched out a hand toward her. “Could I please have our volleyball back?”

She shook her head to clear her brain. “I’m sorry. No, you’re volleyball didn’t disturb me.” She handed the volleyball to him and tried to put on her most charming smile.

“My name’s Lila, by the way, Lila Prescott.”

He smiled again. “Nice to meet you, Lila. I’m Blake Williams. See ya around.”

Then he was gone.

Lila sighed. If she’d really see Blake around, her summer might not be as bad as she had feared. Maybe she could have her own romance while her dad was busy chasing after bikini clad women who were way too young for him.

She hadn’t wanted to spend the summer with her dad again as he went through his midlife crisis acting like he was twenty-something again. But spending the summer at home with her mother wouldn’t have been much better. At least Dad didn’t try to tell her how to dress and wear her hair. Of course, he didn’t want to be seen with her either because he didn’t want his female prospects to know he was old enough to have a teenage daughter.

She hoped she’d see Blake again. He was hotter than the sand beneath her feet. Could he really take an interest in a girl who hid beneath layers of sunscreen and a beach umbrella to avoid turning into a lobster?

Flash Fiction Friday: Another High School Dance

Parker watched her from across the room. While her friends were around her, she was chatting, animated and laughing. During the upbeat songs, they were on the dance floor in a group. As the tempo of the songs slowed, guys asked her friends to dance, leaving her alone. She either stood leaning against the wall or sat in a chair in a corner. She watched the couples with her arms crossed. She rubbed her arms with her hands.

He held his breath as he watched her rise and take a deep breath. She walked to the right side of the room and stopped in front of a young man. She spoke, the young man spoke and she turned away, her face flushed and downcast as she returned to a chair in the corner. No sooner had she sat down, then the young man she had spoken to entered the dance floor with another girl.

He released his breath. What was the problem? She wasn’t repulsive. Of course, she wasn’t what all of the magazines wanted guys to believe was “the perfect” girl either. But she was pretty.

When her friends returned, they spoke and she shook her head. This time she remained seated as her friends danced in a group.

When the next slow song began, he pulled himself away from the wall he had been leaning on and walked across the room. He stopped in front of her. When she looked up, he smiled and reached a hand toward her. “Would you like to dance?”

His heart lurched as she hesitated. “Are you sure?” Her eyes glimmered with unshed tears.

“I am quite sure.” He took her hand, led her to the dance floor and held her in his arms.

Flash Fiction Friday: High School Dance

She stood along the wall with all of the other girls who didn’t stand out in the crowd and didn’t have the guts to ask a guy to dance.

What am I even doing here?  Sure it’s fun to dance with a group of my friends when the music’s got a good beat, but it’s torture to stand along the wall feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed when couples are out there swaying.  She headed to the door hoping some fresh air would do some good.

She returned and danced with her friends until the next slow song began.  Then she joined most of her friends along the wall again.

Wait, is that guy coming toward me?   She held her breath trying not to get her hopes up.  He wouldn’t do much for her social standing.  Everyone said he was the biggest nerd in school.  Never mind that, he was drop dead gorgeous but he was too smart to be popular.

He stopped in front of her, cleared his throat and ran a hand through his black, black wavy hair.  She couldn’t tear her gaze away from his deep, blue eyes.

“Uh, would you like to dance?”

She released the breath she’d been holding.

“I’d love to.”

He smiled, revealing a deep dimple in each cheek.  He took her hand and led her to the dance floor where he took her in his arms and began to move to the music.

If this is a dream, I sure hope I don’t wake up.