Name: Laura Bowers
Debut Group: Class of Class of 2k7
Debut novel: BEAUTY SHOP FOR RENT (Harcourt, May 1, 2007)
Hi, Laura! Congratulations on your new book!
PJH: Okay, so it’s been 5 years since you graduated from your debut class. Personally, I miss the heck out of knowing what my classmates are up to. So give us the low-down. What have you been up to in the last few years? New books? New degrees? New pets? What has been going on, and what do we have to look forward to from you in the future?
LB: Wow, too much to even know where to begin! Well, my most treasured accomplishment is being there for my boys as they went through high school and watching my oldest son graduate in June, which was both exciting and surreal.
(Should I mention spending the following Monday crying on the sofa? Nah, better not. Wouldn’t want that to get out!)
I’ve also survived hurdles thrown to my husband’s contracting company by a tough economy, and felt blessed when we celebrated our nineteenth wedding anniversary. I ran in many 5k races, lost a dog, got a puppy, developed friendships with writers friends who I adore, and been to Disney World, (amazing,) Universal Orlando, (even more amazing,) and Cooperstown Dreams Park, (the most amazing yet!)
As far as my writing career, it’s tempting to just lie and offer a sunny, tra-la-la, everything has been wonderful report, but that’s not my style. Truth is, I went through a horrible second book slump. I’ve made about a thousand mistakes, (more on that later,) and there were even times when I considered quitting this crazy business because life as a non-writer was so damn easier. But in the end, I stuck it out and ended up selling another book called Just Flirt that I absolutely love!
Pretty Brand New Book! JUST FLIRT (FSG, June 19, 2012)
PJH: If you could summarize to a debut novelist the best part of being a member of an author group like the “Class of” groups, what would you say?
LB: There’s something to be said about safety in numbers! And it was wonderful getting to know all the talented, amazing writers in my group.
Check out the awesome book trailer for JUST FLIRT (FSG, June 19, 2012)
PJH: Though I absolutely loved being a debut author, I’m really thrilled with all the experience I’ve gained since. What advice would you give to those who are debuting now? What do you wish you had known when you started out?
LB: Good Lord. There’s so, so much. Okay, let me hit the highlights.
1. Always remember to put craft before publication. Part of my slump came from spending too much time marketing and worrying about getting published again. It wasn’t until I took a step back and concentrated on what is most important—improving my craft and writing, writing, writing, that I finally came up with a book worth selling.
2. Never submit a manuscript before it’s ready. When I heard about my publisher being bought out, I panicked and sent Just Flirt to my editor when it was in no shape to be seen. Also, because we had a very close relationship, I bypassed my agent and submitted to her directly—another major blunder—which brings me to . . .
3. Don’t treat your agent like an editor. For the longest time, I held onto manuscripts because I viewed my agent as editor who would reject me as a client if she didn’t like it. Now, I throw everything at her early in the writing process so she can offer editing advice before I do major rewrites.
4. And finally . . . always remember to protect your career by being your biggest advocate.
BEAUTY SHOP FOR RENT (Harcourt, May 1, 2007)
PJH: In addition to writing the next mega-million bestselling novel, what do you want to accomplish in the next five years? Do you want to write five more books? Get your black belt in Kung Fu? Walk the Great Wall of China? Let’s hear it.
LB: I’m SO EXCITED about the two manuscripts I’m working on right now—one a quirky fantasy and the other a baseball story, which pleases my sons seeing as how they’ve been nagging me to write a baseball book for years! (They’re a little discouraged by the main character being a girl, though.)
I also plan on writing a “how-to” writing novel, and selling picture books so I can give talks to kindergarten classes! (Bonus if I have reason to wear a pink boa.) I will also celebrate my twentieth anniversary next year by running in the Disney Princess Half Marathon, go back to Universal Orlando and Cedar Point for my roller coaster fix, and most importantly, spend plenty of time with family.
(Should I also mention how I’ll probably spend a Monday next June crying on the sofa after my second son graduates high school? Nah, better not. :) )
PJH: Anything else you want to add? Five reasons to read your book? A picture of your writing space? How you celebrated when you signed your contract? Your choice!
LB: I’m going with my favorite places to write! It’s here, on my back deck early on spring and summer mornings.
OMG! I want to write here!
PJH: Thank you so much for being here! And good luck with everything in the future!
LB: Thanks, Tricia, and best of luck to you as well! :)
Laura Bowers lives in Maryland with her husband, two teen boys, and she enjoys writing, reading, running, and hanging with her family. Some of her past job titles include waitress, salesperson, telemarketer, secretary, real estate agent, and during her broke college days, a roving character at holiday parades. (The time she had to wear a painful candy cane costume makes quite an interesting story!)
At the age of thirty, Laura decided to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Many rejected books later, she was inspired to write her first novel, BEAUTY SHOP FOR RENT, by a rusted “for rent” sign posted in front of a charming old house. She later used fond memories from family camping trips for her next young adult novel, JUST FLIRT, and now, she can honestly say that writing is a thousand times more rewarding than being a candy cane.
Thanks for helping me celebrate former debuts! And if you are a former debut and are interested in being featured, check out this post here!