Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Laurie Boris takes a dare...

What has led you to writing?

Utter frustration. Since my early teens, I’ve turned to my journal to vent and fume and imagine and take literary revenge on the evils of the world. It’s led to a life-long habit. Taking to novels started on a dare from my husband. He said, “You can’t write a novel.” Ha. Guess I showed him.

Has your experience thus far been all you expected?

Yes and no. I began writing novels at the tail end of the era in which young talent was nurtured, publishers sent authors on book tours, and novels had dust jackets. I’d fantasized about the day I’d hold my first printed book in my hands. And when I finally did, it was a paperback. Since my background is in marketing and advertising, my next thought was to spin it into something good: it would be cheaper and more people will buy it! The experience of interacting with readers has been better than I expected. Social media has made it so easy. I love when a message from a reader pops up and we have a little exchange. Sometimes it completely breaks my heart.  

Poor editing seems to be a big issue in the Indie scene. As an editor, what is your take on the subject?

How much time do you have, Todd? Seriously, I want all of us to put our best work out there. I hate when I see forum threads about “crappy indie editing.” I hate when I download a book and it’s peppered with typos and cringe-worthy word choices. Yes. The majority of writers are professionals who care deeply about the impression they make. In no way am I saying we don’t, or that we’re lazy. But I think some of us rush. I feel that pull at times. Your friend releases a new book. Everyone’s excited and the review bling piles up; you want yours out NOW. Why jeopardize your credibility by rushing, by not giving your manuscript to a few beta readers, by not getting a good edit or proofread? It doesn’t necessarily have to cost a fortune. You get what you pay for, but many editors are willing to negotiate, especially with indie writers. As one myself, I feel your pain.

 The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the problems (if any) that you see today?

Impatience to release books, as I mentioned before. And it makes me squirmy when writers take their personal battles with other writers or reviewers public. Sure, we toss a little snark and vent privately with our friends and support groups, but I don’t think it does our cause any good to turn on each other. Healthy debates are fine. Calling each other out, not to answer a baseless charge but to get more attention for you and your work? Eh. Maybe because I don’t like confrontation (unless it’s in my novels.) And grandstanding just seems…desperate to me.

 The social media is…

Fun, influential, and effective, if used creatively and with common sense. Damaging, time-sucking, and dispiriting if not. I love that it’s put me in touch with so many great people in all areas of my life. I love that it’s transformed how we get our books into the world. But if I stay on too long, that’s time I’m not writing, reading, getting my clients’ project done, or tending to all the other things I do each day. So I have to be careful.

Share some information about your work with us:

Each project feels like I’m learning to write a novel all over again. A character or situation falls into my head and I have to get to know these people and their conflicts. Fortunately, I like puzzles. Unfortunately, I have this habit of writing a first draft, putting it away to “compost,” and getting involved with another project. Maybe that’s self-preservation, so I’ll always have something to pull out of the closet. With editing work, each new manuscript I’m entrusted with is also a puzzle. I’d never mess with a writer’s voice; I’m just trying to help them make it clearer.

 What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?

“But why don’t you want to go to a BIG publisher and make tons of money?” Sigh.

How will you deal with negative reviews?

I’ve already dealt with some. Sure, they were tough at first. I vented in private, but I won’t respond in public. An opinion is an opinion. I opened myself up for this when I published. If it’s about the work, fine. Maybe I can glean some useful information that will help me next time. If it’s about the reader, chalk it up to personal preference. Whatever. Move on.

How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?

I try to read at least a half-hour a day, and more if my eyeballs can stand it. I can only speak for my own experience, but reading has been one of my greatest writing teachers. I can’t imagine not reading.

Share some editing wisdom with the writing community.

I think we make ourselves crazy with writing “rules.” Sure, certain grammatical constructs are there for a reason. Proper punctuation makes your sentences easier to understand. Consistency in tense and voice makes for a smoother reading experience. Varying sentence structure and length doesn’t make it so smooth the reader is lulled off to sleep. My usual answer when writers ask if they can do x, y, or z in their books is, “It depends.” If it works, and you limit the use of the unorthodox stuff for places in your story where it will give maximum impact, you can get away with pretty much anything. Learning how to make those choices that are best for the story is part of your growth as a writer. A good editor can teach you that, too.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I’m revising the next novel, a “tragicomical” story of a family in crisis.

What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?

Even though sometimes I write about serious topics, I’m a total goofball.

If you could team up with any Indie author, (no fair if I let you choose from one of the big names), who would you choose, and what would be the subject matter of the book?

Oh, that’s not fair, either, Todd! There are so many wonderful indie authors and I don’t want to leave anyone out. Although there is one idea I’d love to try: gathering together a band of women “of a certain age” who write comedy. In Western culture (mainly), older women are grossly underestimated and fairly invisible. Or we’re stereotyped as menopausal “cougars.” I’d love to be part of an anthology of real women who make people spit tea across their keyboards. (Editor's note: Go to the links at the bottom and contact Laurie if you fit the bill.)

Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?

I’ve gotten such wonderful support from my family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. My fellow contributing authors at Indies Unlimited have inspired me to be a better writer and given me great marketing and promotion tips. My writing friends - you know who you are - have helped me keep my morale up and poured me lots of virtual coffee and wine when the going gets tough. And major props to my husband, Paul, for not running away screaming years ago.

What is the most misunderstood thing about being an editor versus being a writer?

That being an editor means I’m immune from errors in my own work. Most writers reach a saturation point in the revision process. Our brains fill in the missing words and skip over the typos because we’re too familiar with the story and our sentences. I won’t hit “publish” unless I’ve had fresh eyes on my manuscript.

What is in your “to be read” pile right now?

M. Edward McNally’s “Norothian Cycle” books. I just finished the first in the epic fantasy series (The Sable City) and I’m excited about the continuing adventure. He’s terrific. Also pulsating on the Kindle are JD Mader’s short story collection and books by JL Murray, Nancy Lee Parrish, Yvonne Hertzberger, Susan Wells Bennett, and Janus Gangi. Just to name a few.

Links to Laurie:


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