Do you ever wonder about the people behind the books floating around out there? You know, the books in cyberspace. The ones crowding shop shelves and stacked on the floor beside your bed. Those books.
Who are the people behind them? The ones we call writers, and dare I say…authors. Are they mind readers? Lofty billionaire types? Hermits? Too-cool-for-school celebrities?
What if they’re actually regular people just like the rest of us? You know, high school students, college grads, moms, dads, working stiffs, introverts, extroverts, introverted extroverts (holla!), bikini models, teachers, doctors, dreamers, movers, shakers… Yeah, I think you get the picture.
In order to pull back part of the curtain, I think it’s terribly fun to interview authors, those writer folks, and poke around in the clutter that is their brains. I love for you to meet the people behind the stories and have opportunities to make connections, build friendships, and support each other in life’s endeavors. What a great way to live!
And in the spirit of this, I’m honored to have author L.M. Nelson stop by for a bit of my
interrogation interview skills.
L.M. has written an NA medical drama/romance series that she’s put her heart and soul into, but her most recent work is a YA fantasy story called The Guardian, which is about a brother and sister whose lives are turned upside when their parents die in a car accident. But I’m talking UP-Side-DOWN, folks. But more on that later.
Please enjoy some virtual popcorn, sit back and relax. It’s time to meet L.M. Nelson!
Rachael: So, the best way to get to know someone is to find out about their quirks. I mean, I’m right, right? In that case, L.M., do you have any unique or quirky writing habits? Rituals to begin writing each day?
L.M.: I wouldn’t say I have any quirks, so to speak. I grab a cup of tea, boot up my laptop, get my notes and reference books out, and start typing.
Rachael: Reference books, huh? Trying to make the rest of us look bad. I see how you are. A bit of the overachiever. None of us can identify with that. *cough cough* Especially not writers…unless you ask a writer. haha So, since you take your writing seriously–with a cuppa–do you have a goal of certain # of words a day/week, or do you only write when inspiration strikes?
L.M.: Despite advice from many writing experts, I don’t set word count goals for myself. With my current day job, I don’t get home most night until after 7:00 P.M. Although I do crack open the laptop and try to write something each night, setting a word count goal would be too stressful. I deal with stress all day. Writing is my release from that. I prefer to write at my leisure with no time constraints to pressure me.
Rachael: That makes a lot of sense. Hey y’all, weigh in on that in the comments! How does your daily life effect your ability to read books you love or write them?
L.M., how has your environment & upbringing colored your writing?
L.M.: I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. As a child, I spent quite a bit of time outside – riding my bike, roller skating, fishing, or just enjoying the wilderness. I have a love affair with mountains, trees, creeks, rivers, and lakes. Many of my books are set in the Pacific Northwest, and my characters love outdoorsy activities. Various scenes within my books reflect this part of the country.
Rachael: Oh yeah, and The Guardian starts out in Northern Idaho! I love it. That’s just out my back door. Just a hop, skip and jump away. So, with your love of the outdoors and the Pacific Northwest, I imagine you’d love to write in a cabin in the woods. If you can’t be there, describe what your ideal writing space looks like.
L.M.: A space within the comforts of my home where I can be alone in peace and quiet, wearing my sweat pants and silly socks with a cup of tea nearby. I might even have a cat on my lap.
Rachael: Do you write alone or in public?
L.M.: I’m a lone wolf who prefers to write in the comfort of my home. I feel more comfortable there, and if I need anything, it’s within easy grasp.
Rachael: Music or silence?
L.M.: Silence. Music distracts me too much.
Rachael: I like silence, but I have discovered that music without words can also be inspiring, depending on what I’m writing. Outside, where you are and what you don’t listen to, what tactics do you have when writing? (For example: outline or just write)
L.M.: I have a general idea of where the story is going when I start writing. The main events are planned out, characters are sketched in my head, and I generally know how the story will end. But as soon as I start typing, my characters take over. Their personalities develop, and they often follow their own lead. Sometimes they stray away from the path I put them on. But that’s ok. I just go with the flow and let them tell their story their way.
Rachael: I think character and plot are both essential, but character’s drive plot, so having a good idea of who they are makes all the difference. When it comes time to share, how do you handle criticism from editors and beta readers? What about readers?
L.M.: As writers, we all want to hear fabulous things about our books, but realistically, that isn’t going to happen. Criticism is part of being a writer. Some people will love your work, others will hate it. I take criticism with a grain of salt. I don’t let it get to me, but rather use it as a learning tool to improve my craft.
Rachael: Yes. Yes. Yes. This. Very much. When I first started sharing my reading, I feared criticism. Sweat and tears fear. BUT I’ve learned so much from the words of peers and editors by being open to their critique. It’s all in perspective. Now, I look forward to most feedback. I’m trying not to puff out my chest here. haha What’s gonna happen is someone’s going to hate something I’ve written and not be afraid to tell me why, and then I might hide in the corner and cry.
But I really should stop talking about me here. Sheesh, Rachael, you show-stealer, you. So, L.M.! Reading. Do you? Don’t you? How important is it?
L.M.: I spend a lot of time reading various educational books, journals, and articles for work but don’t have a tremendous amount of time in my daily schedule for pleasure reading. I wish I did. I enjoy a good book. I love meeting new characters and going on adventures with them. There are some amazing authors out there who inspire me every day. Reading from different genres and seeing different writing styles helps me improve my writing. I look forward to spring break and summer vacation. I have a big stack of books on my “to read” shelf and can’t wait to crack the spines on them.
Rachael: Ah, the daily struggle of being a real writer. There is a balance between the day job, life, and authoring. And we want it all!!! Sometimes, though, all that outside stuff becomes a distraction for a writer. What do you do to deal with distractions? What sorts of distractions do you have?
L.M.: Noise and demands from family members and pets distract me sometimes. My biggest distraction is myself. I sit down to write and feel guilty because there are a hundred different things on my to-do list I need to get done. I feel like I should do those instead of plucking away at the keyboard.
Rachael: As a mom, I can totally identify. The laundry pile is my greatest foe. Not to mention laundry’s 2nd in command…dirty bathrooms. These things can seriously interfere with a writer’s mojo if one lets them. How do you write when you don’t feel like it?
L.M.: I find something else to write, like a blog post or a poem, or read a few chapters from a book. Sometimes I go for a walk or work in my garden, which usually gets ideas brewing in my head. Once the ideas are flowing, you can’t keep me away from the keyboard.
Rachael: This next question seems silly now…do you ever wake up in the morning and dread writing?
L.M.: No. I wish I could wake up and write all day, but I have other commitments that have to come first.
Rachael: Of course, on those days where it is hard to write and you do have time, I bet there are a few other things you might do to get inspired. Like some authors create pin boards on Pinterest for inspiration. Have you created any that you reference while writing?
L.M.: Yes. Several, in fact. I have quite a few boards on various writing topics, including a board dedicated solely to character development. I have a few boards on blogging, one with various inspirational quotes for writers, and one with odds and ends of research I’ve done. (Some of the things I’ve pinned on that board would raise questions). I even have a board dedicated entirely to my fantasy books.
Rachael: Oh, speaking of your writing, we’re running out of time for today. You’ll have to come back! On a final writing note, what inspires your characters and settings?
L.M.: Definitely! My writing always begins with characters. The rest of the story is built around them. I’m a people watcher. A lot of my character inspiration comes from watching how different groups of people interact with one another and listening to what they say. I use some of this in my books.
Some of the characters I create remind me of people I’ve known over the years. Others resemble family members or friends. There’s a little bit of me in each of my characters too. A lot of times, my characters start off as one type of person and end up becoming someone totally different by the time the final draft is complete.
My characters drive my stories. They take the wheel. I simply try to keep up with them and write down what they say and do.
Rachael: Character is king! Plot is his favorite son and heir. 🙂
Thanks so much for coming on the blog today, L.M.! I had so much fun getting to know you a little better, but I have a ton more questions for you. Come back later this week and we’ll
subject you to a special form of torture ask a few more probing and fun questions about you!
In the meantime, friends, check out L.M. Nelson’s latest book! And make sure you come back for the follow up interview later this week where we’ll really get a good idea of who this author is!
Devastated by the tragic death of their parents, Camryn and Toby Hunter find themselves alone in the Idaho wilderness. When Toby discovers a pair of gold rings, he and Camryn are magically transported into a mystical land they’ve never seen before. Their only known exit is immediately sealed off, and they find themselves surrounded by mythical creatures, a beautiful waterfall oasis, and moss-covered Redwood trees with faces. Named as “the Guardian” by the locals, Toby is faced with a life-changing task. He and his sister can only return home when the elements are reunited and peace is restored to the land of Gelnoff. With only two gold rings, ten days’ worth of supplies, and the guidance of a wise, old Redwood tree, Toby and Camryn begin the journey of a lifetime. –The Guardian by L.M. Nelson
The Guardian as well as L.M. Nelson’s other titles can be purchased on
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