HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, November 17, 2017

INTERVIEW WITH LAUREAN BROOKS!

Today I’m pleased to have as my guest Laurean Brooks. She was brave enough to let me interview her. Here’s the result:

Please tell us about growing up.

I was terribly shy and a bit of a tomboy as a child. My siblings and I swung on a Tarzan-type rope hung high up in the giant oak tree, and rolled one another down the hill in a barrel. When the teacher called on me to answer a question, my face burned. The other kids turned to stare as if they'd never seen a beet-red face.

I grew up on a Tennessee farm, the fourth of seven children. We were given responsibilities at an early age. Taking care of livestock, cutting firewood, raising three gardens and 10 acres of corn (which we planted, hoed, and harvested) were a few outdoor chores we performed.

My sister and I were given assigned cooking, making the family's beds and helping Mama on wash day. We hung clothes on the wire lines Daddy had strung from post to post in the backyard, while Mama ran the clothes through the wringer washing machine.

Having few material things forced my siblings and me to be creative. My sister, Jewell, and I cut children models from the Sears catalog for our paper dolls. We spent countless hours putting on play productions, using them as our cast.

She and I would also select a book then take turns picking out 10 words from which to create a funny story. I guess this was how my love of writing began. And I still include humor in all my stories.

My brother Ralph, a few years older, had a gift for carpentry. When he was 14, he nailed together a sled from scrap lumber. It was too heavy to slide on soft snow the first winter, but when the snow became deep and packed the following winter, it sailed. A tree root halfway down the hill in our woods became a launching ramp. When the sled struck the root and it became airborne, we would hang on for dear life.It would end up sometimes in the creek at the foot of the hill.

Ralph would also take the younger ones on long walks through the woods. One day he took us to an old deserted two-story house. He told us it might be haunted, and to slip in quietly. My sister and younger brother did as told. We entered the kitchen. Inside was a table, an old wood cook stove and a few dishes, as if someone might be living there. In the corner sat a trunk. We opened the lid and found stacks of pictures inside. After we became bored, it was time to investigate the upstairs.

With Ralph in front we started ascending. About halfway up the stairs, we heard a rush. Ralph turned around and frowned, “What was that?”

Two seconds later, a slew of bats flew down the stairs, over our heads. We tore out of that house as fast as our legs would carry us and never went returned.

Married, single? Children?

Today, I have been married to a flea-market loving, auction-hopping man for 28 years. The biggest part of our vacations are spent at yard sales or inside antique/junk stores. We collectively have three children. All are grown and married. My husband has 4 grandchildren and I have one granddaughter.


Tux has cat-itude!


When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

We are Daddy and Mama to two Labrador Retrievers and a black cat. I take daily walks with the dogs and cat, weather permitting. The cat tags along, depending on his mood on that particular day. He has a cat-itude at times.


Riley

Spence


How long have you been writing?

I've been published 8 years, writing since I was 10. My first essay in 5th grade got me in trouble. Miss Mary did not appreciate my version of Columbus's expedition to the New World. I read it to the class. They went into hysterics over the scene where the natives stuffed Columbus into a cannon then shot him back across the ocean. But Miss Mary did not see the humor in it. She demanded a “more realistic” rewrite. I did the rewrite, but my classmates' eyes glazed over as I read it aloud.

Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

I need solitude and quiet. Soft music seems to help. Sometimes I write from my computer desk. But when on a deadline, I take my laptop into the bedroom, close the door, get comfortable in the recliner, and write from there.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A pantser who wants to become a plotser (a cross between the two.) I don't want a strict outline, since my story tends to take off in a different direction than I mentally planned. But I have seriously considered jotting down a loose outline that will change as I get into the story. The outline would start me at point A (the beginning), and take me to point Z (the planned ending). But B through Y (and everything in between) need to be flexible because my characters tend to take me in unpredictable directions.

Do you do your research before you begin a new project, or as you go along?

Both. Beforehand and as I go along. During research, I might find something of historical interest that will add flavor to the story.

Who is the most interesting secondary character you've written, and why?

Oscar Ellwood, III in JOURNEY TO FORGIVENESS was a spoiled, Mama's boy, lanky and skinny, buck-toothed and wore Coke-bottle thick glasses. Oscar was an intellectual know-it-all who pursued my heroine until my hero nipped it in the bud. The guy was hilarious. You never knew what he would do or say next. And when during the mission trip his teddy bear fell out of his bag... Well, I'll just quote what a reader said, “That Oscar was a hoot.”

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise readers.

By now you can tell I'm talkative and a people person. I love meeting people, learning about them as long as it's in a public setting. But I have a private side that demands I spend time alone. It is those times at home or during walks in the woods that ideas form for my next book.

What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

I would like my stories to entertain, to pull my readers into a different world. I want to take them on an emotional journey, make them cry and/or make them laugh. If the reader feels something and learns a life lesson from the story, it is worth the sweat and tears I've put into it.

What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Do not get discouraged. If you have a story in you, write it. Stay away from dream stealers as much as possible. Surround yourself with upbeat people who have the same goals—preferably fellow writers. Study the craft of writing. Online creative writing courses helped encourage me. Once your manuscript is completed, let a friend who scored high in grammar proof it. Then send it to a qualified editor.

What has helped you in your writing career? Did you have a mentor?

I've had fellow writers who would not let me give up. At mid-point while writing my first book, I laid it aside for months. My friend, Deb, who I met on an online writing course, kept after me to pick it up again. I finally did a year later and finished the last half of the book in weeks. Deb is still an inspiration to me.

Seeking the Lord helps me stay centered. I ask for guidance each time I start a new book. “Lord, I'm writing for You. Let every story I write honor You, and anoint my words to help those struggling with similar problems to those of my characters.

Tell us about your latest release.

NOT WHAT HE ORDERED Blurb:

When Carrie Franklin's struggle with a drunk leaves him unconscious or perhaps dead, she flees. Forgetting the promise she made to her deceased mother, she catches the train to Abilene, leaving her feckless brother behind.

Carrie shares a seat with a young woman who confides she's a mail order bride en route to meet her fiancé. Molly's friend had also planned to be part of this adventure. But without warning Katy Davis changed her mind.

When Carrie mentions she will disembark in Abilene, Molly asks a favor. “Please explain Katy's absence to the man Katy promised to wed. It would be awful if he waited at the depot for hours.”

Wrought through a misunderstanding and her empty purse, Carrie finds herself headed toward the Kramer Ranch with Josh Kramer under the assumed name Katy Davis.

When Carrie learns through Josh's aunt that he believes she's the domestic help, Carrie realizes she had dug herself into a pit. Aunt Em will suffer if she reveals her identity.

Suspicious of Katy, Josh still finds himself falling in love. Burned once, he's sworn, “Never again.” Then he sees Katy in a moonlight conversation with his new ranch hand and suspects the worst. Are they scheming to take the Kramer ranch?

If Carrie reveals her true identity it could destroy any feelings Josh may have for her. Can Josh ever forgive her? Did Carrie kill the drunk? Is a posse trailing her? Only through God's grace can bring forgiveness and ensure a future for Carrie and Josh.





NOT WHAT HE ORDERED Excerpt:

          The drunk fingered a lock of Carrie's hair. “Treat Big Jim nice and he'll show you a night you'll not likely forgit.”

He traced her jawline with a callused thumb. “Smooth as silk. Mmm, Mmm, you sure are a cute little thang. How about a little kiss for a lonely ol' man?”

Carrie flung his hand from her face. She'd never been mauled by a man and didn't aim for this to be the first time.

Big Jim dragged her closer. “You're a feisty one. What's wrong, Big Jim ain't good enough fer ya?” His hairy arm snaked around her waist, yanking her closer, and smashing her face into his sweaty shirt. If she quit struggling, maybe he would loosen his grip. Carrie paused to catch her breath and to plan her next move.

Big Jim mistook her pause for surrender. “That's more like it, gal. Just relax and give Big Jim that kiss he's been wantin'.” He slackened his hold and lowered his head. The coarse stubble of his beard stung Carrie's cheek.

Anger and adrenaline raced through her. She pushed against him, then raised her foot and kicked him in the shin.

“Ow-w-w!” He let go and hopped around on one foot, cursing under his breath. “You little wench! You'll pay!”

The menacing gleam in his eye told Carrie it was now or never. Before he could grab her again, she shoved against him. The big oaf stumbled backward to the edge of the boardwalk, flailing his arms as he hit the ground with a thud.

Carrie clenched onto the support post, a hand pressed to her pounding heart. Big Jim lay spread-eagle, flat on his back in the dusty street. A rock lay beneath his head under the dim street light. He was not moving.


How can readers learn more about you?

Laurean Brooks, Author


The link to my author page, where readers can view all my books is:

My blog: Laurean's Lore: http://laureanslore.blogspot.com   







16 comments:

Laurean Brooks said...

A big hello from me, Laurean Brooks, to everyone out there in blogland and cyberspace. It's a beautiful day in Tennessee. How is it where you are?

Miss Mae said...

Sunny here, Laurie (waving). I LOVED Journey to Forgiveness and that rascal Laurie wrote about. He was a hoot! LOL

And, oh, I loved that excerpt from "Not What He Ordered". Yuck, I can just envision that scene. And now I'm left wonderin' what happened to him!

Thanks for spotlighting Laurie and her books today, Caroline!

Ann Ellison said...

Really enjoyed your interview. My cousin and I cut paper dolls out of the Sears catalog. It's in the 70's here and sunny. I am getting ready to start your new book.

Larry Hammersley said...

I enjoyed the interview and learning more about you, Laurie. I can relate to your childhood. Mom did washing and ironing for people in our small town. I remember all those clothes hanging across the living room getting dry during the winter by the old coal stove. I'm looking forward to picking up the print version of your new novel. The synopsis has drawn me in even more as well as that excerpt. Thanks, Caroline for featuring Laurie. I've met her in person and read her writings. A great lady to know.

Laurean Brooks said...

Miss Mae, thank you for stopping by. Regarding the excerpt of Carrie struggling with the drunk, she hopped a train not know if she'd killed him.

You mentioned my book Journey To Forgiveness. The hero author is what most women secretly dream of. Strong, protective, witty, but a bit aggravating. That rascal you alluded to is Oscar Ellwood the third. I had a lot of fun making him come alive.

Laurean Brooks said...

Yaaaay! You are starting on my new book. I can't wait to read your review. Thank you for dropping in. And yes, it appears that Sis and I weren't the only ones who cut our paper dolls from the Sears catalog.

It's overcast here, but not cold.

Laurean Brooks said...

Larry, thank you for stopping in and commenting. I always learn something new about you. Those times were hard, but our grandparents had a much rougher time. I do remember Mama's fingers and hands, cracked from hanging clothes outside on a frigid day. She kept a bottle of Jergens lotion handy, but it didn't do much good.

Gail Pallotta said...

Thanks for the interview. I enjoyed learning more about Laurean. I've read Journey to Forgiveness and liked the book very much. Congratulations, Laurean, on your new book!

Susan Page Davis said...

Laurean, thanks for sharing with us about your childhood. Isn't it amazing how we found ways to make toys even if we couldn't afford store-bought ones? Blessings!

Laurean Brooks said...

Thanks for the compliment, Gail. Glad you enjoyed Journey To Forgiveness. I had a lot of fun writing it. And NOT WHAT He ORDERED too. I like saucy heroines.

Laurean Brooks said...

Hi Susan. Thank you for taking time to drop in. No, we didn't have much, but when I reflect on it, it did make me and my siblings more creative. I wouldn't trade farm living for anything. I enjoyed making pets out of the livestock.

Renee said...

Great interview! Sounds like your own story of growing up as a country girl could be a book of its own!

Laurean Brooks said...

Thank you for reading and commenting, Renee. Yes, I actually have a story in mind set in a country town. But I want to go back to the 50s when time moved slower.

Laurean Brooks said...

I want to give a big hand to Caroline Clemmons for inviting me to her blog. She is a gracious hostess, and I've loved every minute.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Thanks for sharing with readers, Laurean. Sorry I was sidelined by a death in the family and couldn't devote the time I usually use for promoting my blog. Thank you for promoting. Best wishes for continued success.

Laurean Brooks said...

Sorry, Caroline. I thought something must have happened. But we did okay here. I will keep your family in my prayers.