- My interest in writing started with “The Gingerbread Man” in second grade. I revised the ending, wrote and illustrated over twenty original books, and decided to be an author of stories when I grew up.
- My spirit of adventure has taken me on some wild rides, such as bicycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, white water rafting in Tennessee, hiking the Appalachian trail, and snorkeling with stingrays in Belize.
- Dinnertime with four kids was always loud and festive. Tim and I enjoy our empty nest now, but still love having dinner with the kids whenever they wander home or we can visit them. They live in Michigan, Colorado, New Jersey, and Sweden.
- Georgia is surely the longest state. When my boys were 14 and 12, they picked the same two songs over and over while we were driving across Georgia: Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” 527 times. Each.
- My guilty pleasure is watching Andy Griffith Show reruns and embracing all things Mayberry, including a visit to the original Mayberry in Mt. Airy, North Carolina.
- My husband Tim was a soccer coach for fifteen years, but I always tease him that I’m the undefeated one. That’s because I coached just one season of girls soccer (the school was in a pinch), and we played only four games. The wins were pure luck.
- Some favorite memories from when my kids were young: hosting neighborhood tie dye parties, taking a “Little House” trip with my daughters, hiking at Devil’s Lake with my sons, and reading tons of books together at bedtime.
- One of my keepsakes is an autograph of Ray Bolger (the MGM Wizard of Oz scarecrow) that my mom got for me when she met him in New Orleans.
- Free tip of the day: Riding a rowboat with a 25-horsepower engine across the ocean is not a good idea. My husband and I once did this out of desperation when we had to hire someone to get us from Caye Caulker to the mainland of Belize.
- I love fairy tales.“Beauty and the Beast” and “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” are two of my favorite fairy tales because they show the true nature of love.
- Karaoke works best on road trips when driving alone and singing to an audience of one. It got me through seven such trips from Wisconsin to New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kansas (2018 – 2022). My favorites are 1970s pop tunes, especially those of Billy Joel, Elton John, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Neil Diamond . . .
- Summertime’s my favorite. I thrive on family gatherings at Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan–close to my Dutch roots. Fun fact: we stay at the opposite end of the lake from where L. Frank Baum (Wizard of Oz author) stayed at Macatawa Resort in the early 1900s. That little tidbit inspired my interest in Baum and his creation of Oz.
Find Laura on the Web
Crystal Caudill’s Dangerously Good Historical Romance blog—December 20, 2022
Karin Beery’s review blog—November 21, 2022
Debb Hackett, Faith, Hope & Love—October 21, 2022
Blue Ridge Connections – My Reading Life—September 13, 2022
Lena Nelson Dooley’s A Christian Writer’s World—September 6, 2022
Nyla Kay Wilkerson—Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess—July 27, 2022
Kelly Goshorn’s Romancing History—July 7, 2022
Splashes of Joy—June 27, 2022
Connie Saunders’ Older & Smarter blog—June 16, 2022
Page~Turners blog with Caroline Heinbaugh—May 30, 2022
Deena Adams’s Hope-filled Fiction blog—May 18, 2022
Telling the Truth through Fiction with Susan Sloan—April 2022
All of a Kind Mom with Rosalyn Schwabach—April 2, 2022
She Lives to Read with Patti Stephenson—April 2, 2022
“Turtle on a Fencepost” article on Patti’s Porch—April 2, 2022
Reading is my Superpower with Carrie Schmidt—March 30, 2022
Learn From History—Dare to Bloom with Gail Kittleson—February 9, 2022
Fueled by Faith and Caffeine with Stacy T. Simmons—February 4, 2022
Monday Meet the Author with Kailey Bechtel—January 31, 2022—this is a Q & A
Heroes, Heroines, & History Thursday Talkshow with Linda Shenton Matchett—January 27, 2022
Snark & Sensibility with Linda Wood Rondeau—January 21, 2022
Novel PASTimes interview with character, Jennie Hamilton, from All That Is Hidden—January 13, 2022
Christina Sinisi’s blog—January 9, 2022
“Re-imagining the American Dream” article on Truth in Fiction with Jennifer Heeren—November 18, 2021
Reading my first place short story “A Week with Mr Baum” for the 50th anniversary of Oziana 2021, a publication of the International Wizard of Oz Club, February 2022 — Part 1
“A Week with Mr Baum”, February 2022 — Part 2
1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I decided to become a writer in 2nd grade. Mrs. Haan gets all the credit. She was not your basic sit-in-your-seat and finish-your-workbook type of teacher, unusual for the mid-1960s. Instead of merely copying alphabet letters and reading Dick and Jane, she had students writing original stories and making them into illustrated books.
I didn’t know what to write for my first book, so I wrote one of my favorite stories “The Gingerbread Man”. Instead of chastising me for my lack of originality, Mrs. Haan challenged me to write my own ending to the story. I accepted the challenge. I don’t remember what I wrote, but by the time I was done, I decided that writing my own stories was the way to go. I was unstoppable after that.
In elementary and middle school, ideas for chapter books, TV shows, and movie scripts sprouted from fairy tales, family anecdotes, Nancy Drew mysteries, Hawaii Five-O, and Bonanza.
Years later, at Calvin College in Michigan, Dr. Besselsen took up the role of Muse when he introduced me to Appalachian culture.
2. What is your favorite thing to write?
I love writing stories, so definitely fiction over non-fiction. I write essays about our family life. Though those are enjoyable, I get bogged down with getting the details correct. With fiction, I can make up the dialog and details without worrying about accuracy.
My favorite kinds of novels are realistic and character-driven. I like to delve into the complexities and gray areas of life, into false appearances and misjudgments. With a tendency for long-windedness (when writing), my short stories morph into long ones. I’ve written several children’s stories, too.
3. Where did you get the idea for All That Is Hidden?
During my sophomore year at Calvin College (1978), Dr. Besselsen took a group of education majors to Mars Hill College in southern Appalachia, close to the Smokies. As we met people and explored the area, I was struck by the number of people who created meaningful lives by a route much different from those seeking the prosperity of “The American Dream” that I had grown up with in a well-to-do home as the grand-daughter of a self-made businessman. Even with humble surroundings, meager possessions, and simple goals, these people enjoyed rich lives, and missed out on nothing.
Moved by this experience, I wrote an award-winning story about it when I returned home. “The Sandlot” was published in the college magazine and won first place. About five years later, I read it again. Dissatisfied with it as a short story, I decided that it would be a great novel.
After fifteen years of researching and writing (in my spare time between work and parenting), All That Is Hidden was born with the help of my writers group. I consider it my fifth child. Read more about the Appalachian inspiration here:
4. What is your favorite and least favorite part of writing?
I love every aspect of writing: conjuring ideas, free-writing the initial scenes, thinking through the plot, revising and editing–as each draft makes it sparkle more. It’s hard work that feels like play, because I enjoy it so much. Though I’m an introvert and get my energy from being alone, I can be tired after a day of grappling with all my characters’ personalities and problems!
I dislike being so longwinded (writing-wise) that it becomes cumbersome to whittle scenes down. Two of my novels grew to embarrassing proportions–think epic. Though it was rewarding to pare it down to manageable and effective proportions, it was painful. Not just because of cutting pet phrases and words I’d labored over, but because I was getting sick and tired of going through the novel for the umpteenth time! I have since learned how to reign it in as I’m writing so it doesn’t get so unwieldy.
The compelling challenge is recreating the story world for readers to seamlessly live the experience—to feel the impact of joys and sorrows, colliding in a way that will be felt long after closing the book. It’s what every author wants for her readers.
Thus, I love connecting with readers and hearing how my stories impacted them. After all, the compulsion to tell a story goes beyond the storyteller. It’s all about the person listening, right? Therein lies the blessing. Read more about that here:
5. Any advice for authors starting out?
Join a writers group that will both stretch and encourage you. Improvement is in the revising, accountability, and teachability.
Get in a daily (or almost daily) writing habit. Just do it! Find the schedule that works for you.
Attend writers conferences to learn and to meet other writers. Make connections. We need each other. And we have much to learn.
Read, read, read! Read books in your genre. Read like a writer, not just a reader. Dissect each novel. What makes it tick? What techniques does the author use? What works? What doesn’t?
If you’re drawn to writing like bees to nectar, then persevere. Even if your road to publication is long and rocky, keep writing. If God has given you that desire and some raw talent, cultivate the gift, for it pleases Him. He’s the ultimate Creator and Storyteller, and He made us in His image. He delights in our creativity.
The joy is in the journey. Perseverance and passion are everything.