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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

Q&A Tuesday

With Laney Smith

Who has been most instrumental in your publishing career? God, my family, and my friends. Fellow authors, advisors, the readers, and those messengers who know just when it is time to speak. Those folks who always happen to the edge of my path on this journey, helping to propel me forward on the days when I tire of trying. Every person in my life since this started has been instrumental. I would’ve never found this path without every single person. Every person has been instrumental. Every last one! Tell me your views on the dreaded Writers’ Block. They sell those blocks in sets, now, I think. I think you can build an entire village with those babies, if that’s what you’re into. In all seriousness, I don’t suffer with writers’ block that often. I tend to struggle ore with an influx in story lines – all at the same time. I try to roll with one and another story interrupts it. It’s frustrating when you’re at eighty-thousand words and another story intrudes, forcing you to abandon the one you’ve almost finished. I don’t want to know anything about writers’ block. However, it sure seems like there could be a happy medium. What keeps you away from writing? I’m the mother of two teenaged boys. I know the days they settle in under my roof are numbered. So, I have a tendency to try to stop my world, now, to spend time with them. I’ve been dreading the day I send them off into the world to navigate their lives since the minute they were born. I hope I’ve taught them everything they need to know, and I’ll always be here for them. They are always going to be my world. However, if I’ve done my job, they will be able to stand and face the world without needing me. So, while they’re still here with me, my world stops for them – and sometimes that even means my writing world. What do you do with the bulk of your day? I am a full-time writer. Aside from novels and short stories, I also picked up scriptwriting. When you are an author, you are a mega-corporation, housed in one body. You are the accounting department, the logistics department, the marketing department, the communication department, and the operations department. You have so much to do that writing is easily more than a full-time job. What are common traps new writers should avoid? Aside from vanity publishers (those who con you out of money to publish your book), they should limit their time on Facebook and other social media outlets. It is too easy to believe you’re going to check in, “real quick.” Three, four – eight, twelve hours later, you’ve mastered the art of reading click bait stories (hint: Just skip to the last paragraph. Trust me.). I don’t know how it happens, but I start out chasing the link for a husky having a sneezing attach, then I’m reading about a dye that comes from a beetle, then there’s who wore what, then the celebrities who were famous in past lives, all the ways to compartmentalize your life, and of course, those “easy” recipes that will take you all day . . . It never ends. Just don’t fall into the trap. Leave the click bait alone. Give yourself a half-hour to visit with friends or do that when you’re waiting at the doctor’s office or the auto shop. Just watch out. There’s tricky stuff that will snag your attention and twelve hours later, when you shake off the trance, you realize you recall nothing you read, those articles and links benefit you in no way, and you can’t get that time back. So, avoid that trap! Production killer! How can writers help each other? Be genuine and be honest. If you don’t have time, don’t offer it. If you aren’t asked for your opinion, it is probably not needed. If you don’t want to read something, don’t say you will. If you say you will, read it. If you read it, review it. If you are asked for critique, make it constructive – offering positive and helpful thoughts and suggestions. We’re all in this together and you will get what you give. So, give what you want to receive. If you have something negative to say, consider the fact that you’re only one person – one opinion. Unless the universe checks with you on a daily basis to absorb your super valuable opinion, you might not be in a position to lob snarky, degrading, or insulting commentary at your fellow author. Offer what you can that will be helpful, take your mighty omniscience, and go perfect your own writing. What writing resource gives the best value for the money? That’s a good question. I would think that anything that produces results would fall into this. We’re all different and different things work for different people. So, that’s kind of reliant upon preference, I feel. What did you do with your first paychecks from writing? I put them back into my career. I bought promotional materials – coffee mugs, t-shirts, bookmarks, business cards, pens, book signing banners – things like that. Tell me about how you manage your time. I should have a brilliant answer for this question, but the truth is, I don’t. I live life by the moment – by the seat of my pants. I learned that the more prepared I am, the more curveballs life will throw at me to mess up my little plans. So, I do what I can, when I can. I don’t enjoy the self-imposed pressures of schedules and timelines. That works for me. I know it doesn’t work for everyone. What does literary “success” look like, and have you achieved it? I think anytime a person publishes a work, they have succeeded. There’s the big picture, of course. However, art is rarely the “big picture” without all the little details. Every single time I accomplish something new, I feel successful. First, I published the book. Next, was the first book sold. After that, people started talking about it. Then, I had the first book signing. You see? Every new step is, in my opinion, a success. I’ve seen milestones a lot of authors never see. Do I feel successful? Absolutely! If you expect to be a best seller, the day you release your book, you may be disappointed. If you slow down and realize that there are so many “firsts” that will only be a “first” one time, and enjoy each milestone accordingly, I think it is easier to feel “successful.” Do I feel I’ve achieved success? Yes! For everything I’ve attempted, I’ve succeeded. I never rest on that. I always chase a new “first.”

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