The lazy, hazy days of summer. I love them. I adore rising early and going running with my husband in the morning air, before the heat breaks. I love exploring museums and parks and botanical gardens with my kids. It’s fun making smoothies out of whatever fruit is in the fridge, a glob of yogurt and a ton of ice, then slurping it down with a straw (we take any leftovers, pour them into popsicle molds, and freeze for the next day). I savor getting caught up on my reading pile, well, at least making a dent in it. Splashing in the pool on hot summer afternoons with my kiddos is a blast. Usually my writing goes on a bit of summer vacation too, so I can enjoy a slower pace with my family.
Last week Brenda Yoder tagged me in a game of blog tag, where writers share what they’re currently working on with each other and with their readers. Brenda is working on a book called, Balance, Busyness and Not Doing it All. And since most people I know, self included, are busy, or feel overwhelmed, or wonder how we're going to get it all done, I can't wait for its release.
And although I’m not doing a lot of actual writing, writing this summer, this is an exciting time in my writing journey. I released a new book, It’s Addicting. It’s the third book in the Status Update series revolving around four college roommates.
Obsessing over status, grades, exercise or a boyfriend could never become an addiction...could it? This third installment of the Status Updates series finds four college sophomore roommates finally getting comfy with the routines of dorm life. But Kat, Claire, Palmer, and Hannah soon begin to feel the nagging ache of innocent little addictions pulling them away from their true selves. Hang out with these four roomies to see if they can—or even want to—ditch these sneaky little hang-ups before they take over their lives.
I’m really excited about the response I’ve gotten from readers so far. It’s always a thrill to actually hold a copy of a book I’ve been working on for over a year in my hands.
I’m also gearing up for a tour with Christian recording artist, Holly Starr. We’re traveling through the Midwest in September sharing the message of finding our true identity in Christ. The tour is called Through My Father’s Eyes Tour and is being sponsored by Sisterhood Magazine. If you haven’t checked out Holly’s music yet, it would be a perfect addition to your summer playlist. And Sisterhood is packed with great ideas for summer DIY projects, trips, hairstyles, etc.
Plus, you know, I AM a writer, so I have a new book idea brewing. Notes scratched on napkins and corners of envelopes. More ideas jotted in my Notes App. A character. A setting. A struggle. I love this stage of writing. It holds all of the excitement and uncertainty of infatuation.
This game of tag requires that I answer a couple of more questions, so here goes….
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
I was a marketing major in college. And one of the things they emphasized in my program, was your product had to have a distinguishing feature, and you had to know that niche.
Maybe I took it a little too seriously, but I write contemporary, Christian young adult, issue-driven fiction. That’s a lot of modifiers. And there’s not a lot of it out there. Try finding one whole shelf that carries Christian YA fiction at your local Barnes & Noble. I double dog dare you. If you do find the partial shelf dedicated to this genre, you won’t find many titles that take the current issues teens face every day and hit them square in the nose, challenging them to react, reminding them that Christ is with them in all the hard stuff.
WHY I WRITE WHAT I DO?
Because it’s real. Because it’s relevant. Because high school and college girls will find a boy attractive, will be at a function where there is alcohol, will feel pressures from this world to perform, to fit in, to look a certain way and to wear certain clothes and to succeed. And if we don’t talk about these things, then they get buried. Then there is guilt and shame and uncertainty. Shining light on these subjects allows teens and parents to examine them, allows girls to decide how they’re going to handle them, what their reaction to these situations would, could and should be, gives them a safe place to explore these challenges and talk about them and process them. I write about real life issues. I write what I write to let young women know they are not alone. And that no matter what, no matter what alley of life they’ve gone down, no matter what tragedy or trauma has hit them over their heads, Christ is with them, every step of the way.
HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
It starts with a flicker in my brain. I get ideas every day, but some of them stick and develop and persist, while others fade away before I’ve finished my Starbucks. The ones that keep coming back to me are the ones I pursue. I gather ideas first, flashes of color, moods. Then I switch gears and go into fact-finding mode. Since all of my novels deal with real life struggles, I interview young women who have faced that specific struggle. It’s Complicated deals with date rape, so I interviewed college girls who had been violated. I asked how it affected them, what emotions they went through, what emotions they’re still going through. I take similar threads or unique details and weave them into a fictional tale, using the research to keep my stories authentic. Using story telling to keep it make-believe. And then I start writing. Just immersing myself in story. I always have an idea of the beginning and end when I start writing the actual book, but the middle; the plot itself propels itself forward as I write.
TAG YOU’RE IT
Since this is a game of virtual writer tag, for next Monday I’m tagging:
Amy Parker, author of more than 20 books. She was my editor on my very first novel, Skinny, and she's become one of my dearest friends. She has an incredible book releasing this fall. I’ll let her tell you all about it next week but to get you thinking, it revolves around the 20th anniversary of the end of the genocide in Rwanda. Powerful stuff!
Betsy St. Amant, who I had the pleasure of endorsing her YA novel, Addison Blakely, Confessions of a PK, a few years back and have continued to get to know via our ministry with Nicole O’Dell’s Choose Now. Betsy writes so many books I can’t keep track of her, so I’m excited to see on August 4th what awesome projects she shares with us.
How about you? How are you spending your summer days? What projects are you working on?
Laura L. Smith