Saturday, January 14, 2017

Interview with Laura Langston, Young Adult Author

Today I welcome Laura Langston, multi-published author of picture books and novels for kids and teens. I met Laura through the Romance Writer's of America many years ago (I think almost 12 years ago!) and our paths have criss-crossed over the years bringing us to what we are today - writing colleagues and friends.

I interviewed Laura about what she's doing these days. Here's what she had to say.....

What do you write?

I write books for teens and kids as Laura Langston and books for adults as Laura Tobias.

Why do you write what you do?

I’ve always written and I decided to be a writer when I was in Grade Four. But I didn’t know any writers and wasn’t sure exactly how to turn writing into a career that would pay the bills so I became a journalist. I wrote news articles and radio documentaries and did a lot of reporting, but when my first child was born everything changed and I decided to follow my passion for storytelling. In terms of what I write, I gravitate to subjects I feel strongly about or that mean something to me, whether it’s a theme or subject or even a setting. Sometimes I’m inspired by a person I meet or an event that happens to someone I love. In a lot of ways, my career trajectory has followed my children’s growing up years. When they were tiny I tended to write more picture book manuscripts because I was immersed in the concerns of pre-schoolers. As they grew, my books got longer and more complex. Part of that was my personal growth as a writer but some of that was undoubtedly influenced by my children.

What is your writing process?

I go by the JDI process. Just do it. Writing is my full time job and I treat it as such which means I’m at my desk five days a week with occasional stints of night shifts if things are percolating or if I’m on deadline and need to catch up. On days I work out of the office (usually one day a week) I definitely put in more hours at night or on the weekend. I have both a treadmill desk and sit down desk in my office and I go back and forth between the two. Walking and writing work well for me. It seems to free the muse.

Do you have a favorite background noise you like to have going while you write (TV, Music, kids playing)?

I like quiet when I write! And I don’t often get it these days because I have two Shelties (Team Sheltie) who like to be in the office with me and I haven’t the heart (or backbone) to lock them out. They’re very vocal. As well, our house is on the small side and my office, by necessity, is in the middle of the action which I find distracting. So the more quiet I get, the better.

Do you have a favorite snack you have while writing?

I guess I’m boring because I never eat when I’m working. I drink a cup of coffee in the morning while I check email and I usually have herbal tea after lunch. That’s it.

What are you working on?

I generally juggle multiple projects in varying stages of completion. Right now, I’m writing my next Laura Tobias title in the Girls Who Dish Series and I’m plotting a YA novel tentatively titled A Lesson in Song.

Do you have a new release – immediate past or upcoming?

In Plain Sight releases on February 7, 2017. Here’s what it’s about:
Fifteen-year-old Megan Caliente prides herself on rallying for causes and standing up for the underdog. She’s the president of the school’s political science club and she likes to make her voice heard. But when she learns the father she thought was dead is actually a convicted terrorist responsible for more than two hundred deaths, Megan is forced to examine everything she believes about being an activist. As she wrestles with her values, Megan faces humiliation and betrayal from friends, struggles with the guilt of knowing she carries her father’s DNA, and ultimately comes to accept that her father’s sins are not her own.

What is one thing you would love to learn ‘one day’?

It would have to be something to do with dance. To belly dance, to flamenco dance, to dance the tango. Maybe all three!

What is your least favorite ‘adult’ task, and why?

Washing the mashed potato pot. I mean, really! That stuff turns into cement before you even finish dinner. Who has an hour to scrub a dirty pot? Maybe that’s why we eat so much brown rice.

Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?

So many it’s hard to know where to start. I’m an obsessive reader (I read 2-3 books a week). I practice yoga and in the summer I cycle. I’m a dedicated gardener and lucky enough to live in a mild climate where I can get outside 8 or 9 months of the year. Our yard is crammed with hundreds of fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs, and many of the plants I’ve started myself from seed. The garden is not only restorative but practical too. I’m also hugely interested in mystical arts so at least once a month I’ll attend lectures on everything from crystal healing to animal communication.

Have you travelled – even if in your own province or state – and what was your most memorable/favorite destination?

Travel is hugely important to me. I think seeing the world is one of the best educations you can have. It’s impossible to pick one favorite or memorable destination. Before we had our kids, we traveled for five months in Europe and Russia. That was incredibly memorable and something we’ll do again when family and work obligations lessen. After the kids came along, we spent a lot of years camping at Long Beach and Saratoga Beach and those memories still make me smile. I also took my daughter to New York when she graduated from high school. I had to be in Toronto for a family event so she came with me and we took the train to New York for 4 days. We had a lot of adventures, including narrowly missing a hostage taking!

Do you have a ‘keeper shelf’ of books? What is your most re-read book and why?

I have a keeper shelf and I sometimes re-read books but my existing ‘to be read’ pile is so huge that I rarely have time to go back to a book I’ve already read, unless it’s a writing craft
book. I re-read those fairly often. But that doesn’t stop me from keeping my favorite novels!

Do you have any pets, currently or in the past? Did you have a favorite?

I’ve had a pet since I became an adult, often two at a time. When we were first married we rescued two Pekingese puppies and they were with us for almost fifteen years. When our kids came along, we welcomed a Beagle and a feral cat into our house (the cat was in charge). And now we have Luna and Trace, our two shelties. I can’t pick a favorite. I honestly can’t. Interestingly enough, I’m not a cat person; I’m actually quite allergic to them (which made having a cat problematic, believe me). But I became quite attached to our lovely cat and really grieved when she died. Sometimes early in the morning as I’m just waking up I’m convinced I feel her jump up on the bed to greet me like she did when she was alive.

If you had a ‘spirit animal’ what would it be?

I have one! The owl. Owls seem to be appearing all around me lately, including in our back yard. I’m convinced he’s trying to tell me something.

Do you have a special trick or talent?

Reading people’s minds. It’s my super power!

Thank you so much for letting us into your world, Laura. I wish you much continued success in your writing, and when I see an owl I'll think of you!

To find out more about Laura Langston and what she's up to, be sure to visit:


Book excerpt of In Plain Sight (Orca Book Publishers - February 2017)

I can’t believe what I’m hearing. “You’re saying Mom lied to me? That she’s not Rochelle Caliente? She’s somebody named Alice Farnsworth? That all these years she’s been hiding in plain sight?”

Bev nods. “That’s exactly what I’m saying.” Her dark eyes are grave and unblinking.

I think of Mom’s paranoia every time she saw a cop. Her unease around my friend in sixth grade whose parents were both lawyers. The way that lieutenant looked at her earlier today. The guilty flush on her cheeks when she told me everything would be fine. And, like toxic smoke slowly rising in a house fire, the truth starts seeping through the cracks of my disbelief.

“Really?” I finally ask.


I stare around the kitchen, looking for a sign that I’ve somehow stepped into the wrong life. But everything is familiar—the box of cereal on the counter where I left it this morning, the gravy splatter on the front of the microwave that Mom asked me to wipe off days ago. “Why would Mom disappear? Innocent people don’t do that.”

“To protect you,” Bev says simply.

My stomach flips, a nasty mix of coffee and nerves. “From what?”

“Your mother got caught up with the Dodger Five.”

The Dodger Five. We learned about them in school. The terrorists, five guys, were responsible for a massive bombing at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles that killed over two hundred people in 2002. The fifteenth anniversary of the attack is only weeks away. The local paper ran a big story about them last weekend. “What do you mean she got caught up with them?”

Bev sips her wine. “Your mother was in a relationship with one of the members,” she says after putting her glass down. “She didn’t know who they were or what they were about. They weren’t a group or anything. At least, not as far as she knew. They were just friends of—” She hesitates. “Of the man she was involved with. And then the bombing happened, and the police showed up at her door and her laptop was seized and her life went to hell.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Evidence of the plot was on her laptop.”

I clench my coffee so hard my knuckles hurt. “But she was innocent, right?”

“Yes, but—.”

I interrupt her. “She should have told the police that.”

“She did. She was questioned and released, but she knew she’d have to testify in court. She panicked, and she ran.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

Bev won’t meet my gaze. “She was afraid of…of one of the bombers.”

“I thought they all died in the bombing.”

“One didn’t.” Bev takes a breath. “And the one who survived is your father.”

Blood rushes to my head. “No way.”

“Yes.” Bev nods. “Your mother isn’t a terrorist, Megan, but your father is. Your father is Sal Gaber, the ringleader of the Dodger Five.”

Monday, January 2, 2017

Planning My AuthorLife for 2017

Happy New Year to all! I started off the new year right by getting organized and on track. I usually am more direction-focused, but 2016 proved to be a bit of a challenge as far as staying on track with my writing. But it's done and over with and in the past - can't go back, can only go forward. So my determined-self had a talk with my laggy-self and said 'It's time to take charge - take action!' So I have.

As a writer I'm big on notebooks, of course. I always have one with me, jotting personal to-do notes (family etc) along with writing ideas and to-do's, and as of the last two years, archery notes as well (I took up archery two years ago). But I knew I needed something more - not just a notebook to help me keep on track, and not just an agenda. They both are useless if I don't refer to them or update them regularly. But given how I let things compromise my direction in my writing career over the past year (notice how I said 'I LET' - I'm taking responsibility for my lagging-self, not blaming everything else), I knew I needed something MORE to help me along.

In comes a discovery - 'AuthorLife Planner - 2017' by Bria Quinlan. As the subtitle suggests - 'Prep. Plan. Produce' - it's just what I needed. Goal-setting, time-management, personal dreams/wants/desires, accountability - the list goes on of what this planner intends for the author trying to create a productive writing career. I worked through the first pages which invite the author to realize dreams, goals and areas-of-improvement both personally and writerly. Quinlan suggests the breaking down of the year into quarters, and planning week by week, month by month and then quarter by quarter. I had never thought of viewing my writing goals in quarters - seems so obvious, but sometimes the obvious isn't so obvious - and the concept rang true for me. It's not as overwhelming as planning for year, and planning for the month ahead, although good to do, sometimes leads to disappointment for me. A month goes by, my busy work-life and home-life makes the month a blur, and then I look back and realize I got nothing done over that month, and then beat myself up over it.

But who's to say I won't achieve what I want in the first quarter of the year - January 1st to March 31st? Well, I'll be taking responsibility for that. Determination is my weapon against disappointment, along with a sprinkle of allowances for hiccups or setbacks along the way. I have resolved to not be so hard on myself when things don't go as planned - when I don't accomplish what I want. That's life. I have even scheduled/planned time in the week to ONLY work on the AuthorLife Planning book - to sit, plan, think, review, revise and re-direct my AuthorLife (if and when needed).

Added to that, I received a new notebook for Christmas from my mom, the cover bearing an appropriate inspirational message of 'This Moment Is Yours.' And it's right - this moment IS mine. With the two books freshly cracked open and ready to help me along my year of writing (and whatever comes my way), I'm happy and confident I'm on the 'write' track.

It takes three weeks to make or break a habit, a routine. I'm determined to see through to the end of January with my new goals and plans. I'm determined to not be so hard on myself, and know I will make-up setbacks in other ways, yet to not look at those 'setbacks' in a negative way, but as something to learn from and move forward with. I'm a busy office-worker/momma/wife/writer/archer. Among all those roles I lead, I look forward to planning my AuthorLife for 2017, and know that keeping track in one area of my life will only spill-over and result in positive and productive other areas of my life.

Love this book - I highly recommend it! Write on!

Find Bria Quinlan at

Want to know more about the book? Click here.

Find AuthorLife Planner 2017 on Amazon - click here.