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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

GUEST POST: Author Laura Templeton, Summer of the Oak Moon

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.

Today, we're directing the spotlight to a new(ish) title toted as Young Adult but making waves in the Fiction arena as well.  It deals with the realities of small town prejudice that still exist today despite the strides we've taken to learn from our past mistakes and young love.  Sound interesting?  Let's take a closer look, shall we?  Ladies and gents, today's book spotlight shines on...

Laura Templeton

About the book...
Rejected by the exclusive women’s college she has her heart set on, Tess Seibert dreads the hot, aimless summer ahead. But when a chance encounter with a snake introduces her to Jacob Lane, a black college student home on his summer break, a relationship blooms that challenges the prejudices of her small, north Florida town.

When Jacob confesses that Tess’s uncle is trying to steal his family’s land, Tess comes face to face with the hatred that simmers just below the surface of the bay and marshes she’s loved since birth. With the help of her mentor Lulu, an herbal healer, Tess pieces together clues to the mysterious disappearance of Jacob’s father twenty-two years earlier and uncovers family secrets that shatter her connection to the land she loves.

Tess and Jacob’s bond puts them both in peril, and discontent eventually erupts into violence. Tess is forced to make a decision. Can she right old wrongs and salvage their love? Or will prejudice and hatred kill any chance she and Jacob might have had?


There.  You see?
Definitely trials ahead for this couple, if they even get a chance to face them that is.  As curious as I am to meet the leads, I'm also interested in meeting this Lulu person.  I mean if she's willing to put herself in the line of hatreds fire to help these two lovebirds, she's got to be an amazing person.  Anywho, enough about my thoughts on the subject at hand, let's take a look at the mind behind the work.

That's right!
The author has been kind enough to share a bit about the road to publication as she has experienced.  So all you authors-to-be out there, lend me your ears....err, eyes!  Please join me in welcoming author Laura Templeton...


GUEST POST:  Author Laura Templeton

Today, I’d like to talk about what inspires and motivates me to write. Join me as I give you a quick peek into the four stages on the road to publication and share with you what motivated me as I struggled through each of them.

1. Getting inspired to start (and finish!) the book
Let’s back up to the day I started Summer of the Oak Moon. I’d been listening to some music I loved and a song lyric caught my attention. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and I started thinking about a character that fit the lyric. I gave her a name (Celeste, at first—I later changed it to Tess). She was earthy, independent, loved nature, liked to buck the norm ... and she was a little lost at the moment. She drifted around in my head for about a week until I finally set pen to paper. I wrote the first draft completely in longhand. (Now I write on the computer, but I had problems with that at first. The words just didn’t flow.) This way of starting a novel is typical for me. I’m a character-driven writer, so it’s always the character that first inspires me.

The words of this first draft poured out of me in a way that’s difficult to describe. I wrote in every spare moment. I finished the first draft in about two weeks. It was bad, of course. It was too short, and its sappy ending arrived rather perfunctorily. But the experience was amazing. I’ve written three books since, and I’ve never experienced the same feeling—as if someone else were using my hand to write. It was humbling. And very, very motivating. This is easy, I thought.

2. Honing my craft
About a year later, when I revisited that first draft after joining a professional writing group, I was appalled at how bad it really was.  So much for easy! I began the work of analyzing and trying to improve my novel. This, of course, is a critical part of writing. We only arrive at good writing by revising and rewriting. But slogging through rewrite after rewrite was discouraging. In the end, my drive for perfection kept me going. I could see the improvements with each draft and that kept me motivated to keep working.

At this point, I joined a second writing group to get more feedback and more learning opportunities. I also started writing my second book, Something Yellow (that, oddly, ended up being the first book to get published). I turned chapters in for critiques at every opportunity, attended workshops, pitched to agents at conferences (I’m not sure exactly why that process reduced me—an otherwise competent businesswoman—to a puddle but it did), and I entered lots and lots of contests. I even won a few. All of this I did to get feedback. If you want to write, you must seek out helpful criticism of your work. Let me be clear—professional feedback. Your husband and best friend and next-door-neighbor and sister-in-law’s-brother-who-self-published-a-book-of-dog-training-tips don’t count. Finding a good writing group (or two) and hanging out with like-minded people who were working toward the same goal was instrumental in keeping me motivated and getting me through this period where hard work was the key to survival.

3. Seeking publication Once I reached a point where all the signs pointed to my being “ready for publication,” things slowed to a standstill. Seeking publication through traditional means is not for the fainthearted. Ingredients for success include steely resolve, the ability to refuse to take no for an answer (in a good way—no editor- or agent-bashing allowed), perseverance, and a dysfunctional amount of optimism. I worked hard at getting an agent, sending out over one hundred queries on two manuscripts over the course of about eighteen months before getting an offer of representation. This was grueling. Especially since I got a fairly high rate of requests for full and partial manuscripts, which meant that I continually got my hopes up only to have them dashed by repeated rejections.

The 18-24 month period where I was actively seeking publication/representation was probably the most discouraging of the four stages. During this frustrating time, I took inspiration and motivation where I could. I continued to attend my writers groups and subscribed to lots of blogs about writing and publishing. One of my writer friends is also a co-worker, and she encouraged me probably more than she realized. She and my critique partner were true believers in my writing, and I didn’t want to let them, or the multiple published authors who’d helped me along the way, down. Also, the following quote by Harriet Beecher Stowe got me through many a rejection: “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

4. Getting published
You’ve arrived, right? Your book is coming out. You’re a WRITER, now. Everyone will flock to buy it. New York Times bestseller list here you come.

You don’t know how much I wish I could say this scenario was accurate! Alas, for many of us it’s not. Staying excited and motivated when your book comes out and fails to be a huge hit is something most writers don’t talk much about.  This is the stage where I am today. My two books have enjoyed some small success, and I’m proud of the quality of my work. But neither put me on the bestseller list (though Something Yellow put me on what my husband called the “Bestgiving List” – it hit #5 in the Kindle ebook store when it was on a free promo.) How do I stay motivated to write once I realized that readers probably aren’t going to find me on the bestseller list? Reading is the primary way.

Reading remarkable books by amazing writers always makes me want to write. Being around other authors does as well. This past week I attended an evening event where four talented, not-yet-published women shared their work. It was inspiring. There are so many people out there with stories to share. A bonus—while I was there, I was invited to attend an upcoming writing retreat (on the beach, no less). And suddenly the urge to write was so strong I could taste it. Three whole days to obsess over words. With no meals to cook, dogs to walk, spreadsheets to balance, laundry to do? Count me in! Maybe now I can finish that manuscript that’s been languishing in my digital closet.

In closing, let me say that if you want to write for publication then you must find what motivates and inspires you. Do you like to write in the quiet morning hours? Or at night with rock music blaring? Or in a busy coffee shop? What ideas keep you up at night, clamoring for a way to be let loose on the world? To get you started and keep you going, your inspiration will need to be wide and deep and passionate. What meets that requirement for me? Books, music and beautiful words and the people who write them.

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About the author...

Laura Templeton is an author who lives in Georgia. Her debut, SOMETHING YELLOW, was published in 2013, with 280 ratings and 39 reviews on Goodreads. Her second book, SUMMER OF THE OAK MOON, was recently published in 2015.



Special thanks to Tamara at Traveling with T for making this connection possible and to author Laura Templeton for the beautiful share.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title, the author, or other bookish wonders you'll want to know about courtesy of the "T", feel free to click through the links provided above.  This title is available now via Month9Books, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.

Until next time...happy reading!


Tracy Terry said...

Fascinating to read of the things that inspire writers, to read of their individual journey to publication.

Laura said...

Thanks so much for having me on today, Gina! I appreciate your support of writers and readers. And I'm always happy to meet a fellow dog lover!

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