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The One Thing: Finding the Binding Element of Your Story by Carla Laureano

The One Thing: Finding the Binding Element of Your Story by Carla Laureano

by Carla Laureano

Every story begins with a germ of an idea. Sometimes that’s what agents and marketers call the hook—a unique idea that captures the reader’s imagination and makes them want to buy the story. I like to call it the binding element—the thing that pulls the story together. But whatever your initial idea, it can be easy to lose sight of it in the process of transforming that initial spark into a readable plot—to the detriment of both the writing process and the final result.

In the case of my new release, Provenance, I started with the spiritual thread, a question that I wanted to answer: how do past experiences shape our identities and, as a result, affect our relationships with God? As I wrote, I kept that question in mind, made sure that it tied in with every element of my story—and consequently, the book came together more smoothly than any other novel I’ve ever written.

That initial idea, that “one thing,” when treated properly, becomes the primary element on which all the parts of your story hang. It doesn’t have to be as explicit as a question or a theme; it can be a feeling, an interesting character, a mood, even a landscape. When handled deliberately, it is the thread that binds all the plot elements together, serves as a trail of bread crumbs that leads the reader through the story. Most authors, if they’re avid readers, use repetition of elements unconsciously as they write; by doing it deliberately, you can shape your story more effectively, resulting in a quicker writing process and a more satisfying result.

The One Thing: Finding the Binding Element of Your Story by Carla Laureano

Let’s take a look at some of the common binding elements.

Theme
In Christian fiction, a thematic element is the most common starting point. As I mentioned above with my novel Provenance, the idea of how the past shapes one’s identity is the key factor in the main character’s personal journey: each bit of information that she learns about herself and her past gradually changes how she views herself and God. But it can be literal as well. In Blake Crouch’s sci-fi thriller Dark Matter, the protagonist’s questioning of his life choices propels him into a literal exploration of the roads not taken as he is thrown into the multiverse and has to find his way back to his own reality. Both stories have plenty of plot to drive the action forward, but without the thematic elements, they would feel like random occurrences rather than a cohesive force driving toward an inevitable conclusion.

Character
Perhaps the thing that first started the story idea was an unusual or unique character. Aren’t all stories driven by characters, though? Not necessarily. To be interesting, all characters have to be dynamic—they must change and grow over time—but there are plenty of books about ordinary people and how they deal with extraordinary situations. A character like Eleanor in Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Finebecomes the “one thing” that holds the story together, because she prompts readers to constantly look for answers to their questions: Why is she so odd? How did she get that way? Is she completely fine . . . or might she be someday? The unusual character is the story hook, so you need to make sure that the initial promise of the character is carried all the way through to a satisfying ending. If she simply shrugged at the end and concluded that she was born odd and that was okay, the reader would feel cheated because there was no answer to the mystery that was Eleanor.

Mood
Mood is most often a factor in suspense or historical fiction, especially gothic horror or romance. Whether it’s a high degree of tension (or terror) or simply a gloomy, moody setting, the emphasis is on an immersive reader experience. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware uses mood to great advantage: every chapter introduces a new element that contributes to a low level of dread, whether it’s the weather, a creepy old house, unsettling tarot cards, or the repeated appearance of magpies as harbingers of doom. Sure, there’s a mystery at the heart of the story, but without the attention paid to mood, it becomes a simple cozy and not a skin-crawling thriller.

Symbols and Metaphors
Symbolism and metaphor aren’t only the province of literary fiction, though you probably remember the definitions from discussions about the symbol of duality in A Tale of Two Cities or the green light in The Great Gatsby. But commercial fiction can use symbolism and metaphor just as effectively to tie together plot elements and elevate the meaning of a story above mere plot. Simply read Charles Martin’s The Water Keeper with an eye to the repeated water motifs and see how the literal settings transform into metaphors for danger, loss, change, baptism, and absolution.

The One Thing: Finding the Binding Element of Your Story by Carla Laureano

Just because you start with one element doesn’t mean that others can’t or won’t come into play over the course of the story. However, there’s something intriguing about the idea that spurred your desire to write that particular story, and in that germ of an idea is the hook that will make the reader want to explore it with you. Identifying that “one thing,” the binding element of your story, will help you set your direction early on in the writing process and allow you to check that you’re still on track throughout the development of the story—resulting in a faster, more interesting, and more cohesive first draft.

Carla's publisher, Tyndale, has graciously agreed to giveaway a copy of Provenance to one lucky commenter. US mailing addresses only, please.

The One Thing: Finding the Binding Element of Your Story by Carla Laureano
From two-time RITA Award–winning author Carla Laureano comes a story of romance, transformation, and the beauty of belonging.
Los Angeles interior designer and former foster kid Kendall Green is in high demand, both for her impeccable eye and for her uncanny ability to uncover the provenance of any piece. But for all her success, skyrocketing costs have put her California home and her business in jeopardy. Then an unexpected inheritance provides a timely solution: a grandmother she never knew has left her a group of historic properties in a tiny Colorado town on the edge of ruin.
To young, untried mayor Gabriel Brandt, Jasper Lake is more than another small town—it’s the place that saved his life. Now, seeing the town slowly wither and die, he’s desperate to restore it to its former glory. Unfortunately, his vision is at odds with a local developer who wants to see the town razed and rebuilt as a summer resort. He’s sure that he can enlist the granddaughter of one of its most prominent former citizens to his cause—until he meets Kendall and realizes that not only does she know nothing of her own history, she has no interest in reviving a place that once abandoned her.
In order to save his beloved town, Gabe must first help Kendall unravel the truth of her own provenance—and Kendall must learn that in order to embrace the future, sometimes you have to start with the past.

The One Thing: Finding the Binding Element of Your Story by Carla Laureano

Carla Laureano is the two-time RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary romance and Celtic fantasy. A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked in sales and marketing for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband, two sons, and an opinionated cat named Willow.

5 Reasons Why the Third MacDonald Novel was Worth Waiting For

Let's give a hearty Seekerville welcome to guest Carla Laureano! She is sharing five reasons why the third novel of The MacDonald Family Trilogy was worth waiting for plus a giveaway opportunity for commenters!

Five Reasons Why the Third MacDonald Novel Was Worth Waiting For by Carla Laureano

Publishing isn’t a smooth process on the best of days but rarely does a book go through as many changes and delays as Under Scottish Stars, the final book in my MacDonald Family Trilogy. It was initially scheduled to be released in June 2016, but the original publisher was in the process of closing down its fiction line. At the same time, I signed a contract with Tyndale House, who saw the opportunity to bring the entire series over and release the book themselves.

That came with an entirely new set of challenges, from repackaging and re-releasing the first two books in the series to redesigning covers and interiors, a multiyear process. But at long last, Under Scottish Stars has made it into readers’ hands, a full four years after its initial intended release. Which begs the question: was it worth the wait?

You might guess that I’m biased, so of course I’m going to say yes. But I can say that this is my favorite of the three MacDonald Family books, and there are five reasons it may be a contender for readers’ favorite as well.

1. Malcolm Blake gives James MacDonald a run for his money in the hero department.

James MacDonald from Five Days in Skye seems to be a perennial hero favorite among my readers, and really, I can’t blame them. James is handsome, charming, rich, can cook like nobody’s business, and he’s a celebrity. But for those who like their book boyfriends a little more down-to-earth (but no less sexy), Malcolm fits the bill. His roots are humbler and his wardrobe far less flashy, but he’s intelligent, caring, and secretly a little nerdy. Oh, and did I mention he’s a boxer? Case closed.

5 Reasons Why the Third MacDonald Novel was Worth Waiting For


2. Serena MacDonald Stewart is a heroine we can all relate to.

We can’t all be high-powered businesswomen like Andrea from Five Days in Skye or globetrotting photojournalists like Grace in London Tides, but we can probably all relate to Serena: single mum and unintentional collector of many bad dates. She’s just trying to get over the trauma of a not-so-great marriage that ended in tragedy, raise well-adjusted kids, and do right by the family business. If that means her own wants and desires, including her passion for art, fall by the wayside, so be it. (Sound like anyone you know?)

3. We finally get closure on what happens to the other characters in the series.

When I write a series, I’ve been asked why I don’t write epilogues to the earlier books, and that’s because the stories of the first couples always carry through to the last book. Wonder what happened to James and Andrea after they said “I do” in book two? Wonder if Grace and Ian were ever able to overcome their bicontinental lifestyle and rocky beginnings? Under Scottish Stars addresses all that and more along the way, with a really sweet epilogue that makes me feel satisfied that I’ve delivered everyone their happily-ever-afters. (Because come on, we all know there will be a happily ever after, we just don’t know how we’re going to get there . . . it’s the best part about romance novels.)

5 Reasons Why the Third MacDonald Novel was Worth Waiting For

4. This book is an ode to the difficult, humbling, and worthwhile job of motherhood, especially single motherhood.

I don’t often read single-parent romances, and when I do, the kids are usually an afterthought. I wanted to do something completely different with Under Scottish Stars and give a realistic look into what it’s like to parent young children . . . and what it would be like to consider bringing a new man into their lives, with all of the worry and responsibility that entails. Single non-parents need not worry—there’s plenty of toe-tingling romance present . . . because motherhood doesn’t mean an end to romance. There is nothing more attractive than seeing your partner become a good father.

5. Even after five years, I still get weekly (sometimes angry) messages asking about this book’s release.

Not joking. Since London Tides, I’ve answered weekly messages about the expected release of this book and have been accused of everything from holding it back to be cruel to holding it back to make more money. (I still haven’t figured out how that last one works.) But honestly . . . if the love of the first two books has endured long enough to still generate that much anticipation and angst, you can’t not read it. Right?

All kidding aside, I’m thrilled to finally get the third MacDonald book into the hands of readers, and I hope they love it as much as I do. It’s a little bit nerve-wracking to release a book that is as highly anticipated as this book has been, because once it’s released to the world, it no longer belongs to me. If nothing else, the release of this book five years after it was written shows the full breadth of perseverance and determination that’s required by publishing. I’m just happy to have both industry partners and readers who were willing to go along for the ride.


Let us know if you're one of the many fans eagerly anticipating the final book of The MacDonald Family Trilogy! One fortunate commenter will win a copy of Under Scottish Stars! (US only)


5 Reasons Why the Third MacDonald Novel was Worth Waiting For
Carla Laureano is the two-time RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye, London Tides, and the Saturday Night Supper Club series. She is also the author of the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano).

A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

Visit her website and connect with Carla on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Five Things I Learned from Writing a Book in Six Weeks by guest Carla Laureano

Five Things I Learned from Writing a Book in Six Weeks by Carla Laureano for Seekerville

If there’s one thing that I pride myself on, it’s being organized. Which is why I’m embarrassed to admit that I came up short on time during the writing of The Solid Grounds Coffee Company. Typically, I start writing immediately after I get my contract, and I complete a rough draft of my book in eight to sixteen weeks. That gives me time to let it rest so I can return with fresh eyes when I do the first round of edits.

But in the case of Solid Grounds, an avalanche of events rearranged my schedule. I was working on the rerelease of my MacDonald Family books at the same time, which required some minor revisions and manuscript reviews. I released a stand-alone novella. Then my editor went out on maternity leave shortly after I turned in my book, pushing the edits out further, immediately followed by a month of marketing for the release of Brunch at Bittersweet Café.

Before I knew it, I was staring down the beginning of March, with a personal completion deadline of May. Not a big deal since I didn’t have to turn it in until October, except for the fact that when I started publishing, I promised my kids I wouldn’t work more than necessary during their summer breaks. In order to keep that promise, I needed to be finished by the time they got out of school the last week of May, then jump right into edits when they returned at the beginning of August.
Are you dizzy yet? I certainly was.

I sat down at my computer and attempted to write. But health problems crept in. Kid struggles. Family issues. Before I knew it, I was only 20,000 words into my book with only five weeks left on the clock.

I’d like to say that I calmly sat down and prayed for strength and guidance. But I didn’t. I panicked. I worried to friends. I started wondering if I was going to be able to write the book. Finally, after a few days of unprofitable whining, I made a schedule and forced myself to stick to it. And I discovered five pretty amazing things in the process.

1. I’m capable of far more than I think I am.


If you had told me that I would bang out the bulk of a 115,000-word book in five weeks, I would have replied that you were crazy. I write fast, but I rarely log more than 3,000 words a day. When you consider that I got a slow start for the first two weeks, I actually wrote the bulk of the book in three weeks: 5,000 words a day, 25,000 words a week. I wouldn’t rely on my ability to do that again, but it’s encouraging to know that I could if I had to.

Five Things I Learned from Writing a Book in Six Weeks by guest Carla Laureano
It reminded me that so often we think we can’t just because we haven’t. In truth, we are capable of far more than we know; we simply haven’t tried.

2. Resolve is far more important than inspiration.


By the time I got through that first 25,000-word week, inspiration was in somewhat short supply. Yes, I was enjoying what I was writing, but half the time, I didn’t know if it was making any sense. I would check my outline to see which chapters I needed to write each day, and then I wrote them. I didn’t look forward. I didn’t look back. It helped that I parked myself at Starbucks each morning and didn’t allow myself to leave until I finished my word count for the day. After several hours of sitting in a hard, slightly uncomfortable chair, I would do anything to get out of there . . . even finish my chapter. It certainly wasn’t inspiration driving the story at that point. It was resolve (and maybe a little bit of desperation).

The prize doesn’t go to the person who is the most inspired; it goes to the person with the resolve and the diligence to get something done to the best of their ability.

3. Writing is like a sport: put in the practice so you can reap the performance.


You would think that the words that I wrote quickly under pressure were pretty terrible, but this was among the cleanest first drafts that I’ve ever turned out. I partly attribute that to the fact that I didn’t have time to tinker as I went or second-guess myself. And because I wrote it in such a short period of time, I was able to hold the full story and the character arcs in my head as I wrote. But most importantly, I’ve written almost a million words for publication. If you count all the rewrites and the numerous unpublished manuscripts that came before, I’m in the range of 2.5 million words of fiction written.

That’s when I realized that I’d been unconsciously training for this writing marathon like an athlete, with dedicated practice over the course of the last twenty-three years. I’ve spent so much focused time on the elements of plot, style, and pacing that I’ve internalized them. Or, to use a terrible sports metaphor, thousands of practice free throws allowed me to nail the half-court shot at the buzzer.

This clearly illustrated to me that time spent writing is never wasted, whether the books are published or not. You’re strengthening your writing muscles and your endurance for when you need them. Every time you employ a technique of fiction writing, it becomes your own, and over time, you can pull it out whenever you need it.

4. I can’t do this alone.


It sounds like I wrote this book through sheer determination, but the truth is, I would not have completed it but for a single faithful friend. Each morning before I started writing, I would check in with my BFF, Lori, and she would pray for me. Had it not been for her faithfulness in praying for my strength and productivity, I know I never could have pulled it off. I could feel her prayers as I worked, and I’ll always be grateful that she stepped in when I needed it so desperately.

Five Things I Learned from Writing a Book in Six Weeks by guest Carla Laureano5. When God provides an opportunity, He also provides the means.


There are always moments along the writing journey when we question our path or our purpose. I’ve always wanted to write for a living, and yet I’ve struggled and resisted the process every step of the way, mostly because it’s so much harder than I expected it would be. (If I would just learn to rest in God’s provision, things would go so much more smoothly, but that’s a topic for another blog post.) My friend may have prayed for me, but it was God who showed up when I needed Him. Above all else, The Solid Grounds Coffee Company is a story of redemption, of what happens after the Prodigal Son returns, so I can only believe that someone out there, somewhere, needs to read it . . . and God wasn’t going to let that be thwarted by a stressed-out, behind-schedule writer. I wish every book involved the same level of co-creation with God, but even if it never happens again in quite the same way, I’m grateful to have experienced it once.

About the Book & Author

The Solid Grounds Coffee Company by Carla Laureano

Five Things I Learned from Writing a Book in Six Weeks by guest Carla Laureano
Analyn Sanchez can handle the long hours and arrogant clients that come with her job as a crisis management associate at Denver’s largest publicity firm. The high-powered job, expensive condo, and designer wardrobe are all part of her plan to prove to her family that her life choices haven’t been in vain. But when she’s asked to cover up a client’s misdeeds with serious moral and legal ramifications, she can no longer sacrifice her conscience for her career . . . and the cost is no less than her job.

Ever since a devastating climbing accident in South America eight months ago, and a bad decision that dried up his sponsorships, professional rock climber Bryan Shaw has found himself at similar loose ends. When the opportunity to buy a coffee farm in Colombia arises, he jumps on it—only to discover his wandering ways have left him utterly unprepared to run a business.

When Bryan returns home and offers Ana a role in his company as a solution to both their problems, she’s desperate enough to consider working with the far-too-flippant and far-too-handsome climber, even though he’s the polar opposite of her type A nature. As they delve deeper into the business, however, she begins to suspect there’s much more to Bryan than she’s given him credit for . . . and that sometimes the best plans are the ones you never see coming.



Five Things I Learned from Writing a Book in Six Weeks by guest Carla Laureano
Carla Laureano is the two-time RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye, London Tides, and the Saturday Night Supper Club series. She is also the author of the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.


Now it’s your turn: Have you ever had an experience where you had to rely on God to complete an impossible task? How did it turn out? Tell me in the comments below, and you’ll be entered to win a paperback copy of The Solid Grounds Coffee Company.

Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Baking

Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Baking

by Guest Carla Laureano


The first book in my Supper Club series, The Saturday Night Supper Club, came about because I was undergoing what I like to call “home study culinary school.” Armed with textbooks and gastronomy books, I was determined to turn myself into a real cook, not just someone who could follow a recipe. My discoveries made their way into my writing life, and a series was born.

Life Lessons I’ve Learned from BakingThe second book, Brunch at Bittersweet Café, came along a lot more naturally: I’ve been an obsessive baker since, well, birth, so it wasn’t a stretch to write a pastry chef with nostalgic ties to her grandmother’s recipes. In the course of a lifetime of baking, the last twelve of those spent living at about six thousand feet above sea level, I’ve learned just as much about myself as I have about the science of baking.

Lesson #1: Most problems don’t come from a lack of ability; they come from a lack of planning.

With the exception of macarons, which at my altitude seem to require a mixture of black magic and pixie dust to perfect, baking isn’t all that hard. After all, the interaction of ingredients is fairly predictable, and if you’re working off a decent recipe, you can be more or less assured of the finished product. The problems come in when you don’t read the recipe through and prepare your ingredients in advance. Who hasn’t discovered halfway through that they’re missing cream of tartar or some other obscure ingredient you were sure was hidden in your pantry? And while some recipes are forgiving of a quick trip to the store, others are completely ruined by your lack of planning.

I’ve found that to be a surprisingly apt comparison to life. Most of us are capable of more than we think; we simply need to learn to plan ahead, take our time, and not leap into situations before we’ve thought them through.

Lesson #2: Problems are just a matter of perspective.

Going back to the macaron reference, I have only ever made one perfect batch of macarons, the result of several failed batches and minuscule tweaks recorded faithfully in my notebook. Recently, I wanted to make a batch and after searching high and low, determined that I must have accidentally thrown away or given away that notebook when I was whittling down my cookbook collection. Worse yet, the website from which I got the original recipe is permanently gone. I had to start over from a brand-new recipe.

It was a disaster.

Flat, gooey, stuck-to-the-mat macarons. Besides learning a) to be more careful when I’m cleaning and b) not to use that recipe again, I found that even the biggest disaster can be salvaged with the right perspective. They might not have been macarons, but made with copious amounts of almond flour, sugar, egg whites, and cocoa, they were still absolutely delicious. I called them chocolate almond chews and ate them with a nice cup of coffee. My problem was turned into an afternoon snack. Sometimes all we need is a shift in perspective and that failure doesn’t look so bad after all.

Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Baking
Click to download a full-size version.


Lesson #3: There’s no disaster that can’t be fixed with a little chocolate.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll elaborate anyway. I made a batch of Girl Scout Thin Mint clones on Christmas Eve. Because it was a paleo recipe, the dough was a little fussy and a good portion of the cookies I cut out cracked or broke apart. I pieced them back together on the baking sheet, sealed the cracks the best I could, and hoped for the best.

When the cookies came out of the oven, they were misshapen and lumpy from handling, a little lopsided, and not all that pretty. Fortunately, I still had the chocolate coating to go, and when they were finally enrobed and cooled, they were perfect glossy circles. (They also happened to be delicious.)

Let’s just say that when you’re having a really bad day and just need to get to the finish line, there’s no shame in smoothing over the cracks by hiding in your closet with a Hershey bar.

Lesson #4: Sometimes you have to cut your losses and start over.

Before I learned I was gluten intolerant, I was a huge bread baker. People are scared of homemade bread because they think it’s difficult, but the long process of mixing, kneading, and rising is actually pretty forgiving with lots of chances to fix what’s going wrong.

However, I did have one recipe using some alternative flours that must have been misprinted, because I couldn’t get the ingredients mixed to anything approximating a dough: it was shaggy and lumpy and it wouldn’t come together. Adding more water only made it slimy; adding more flour made it grainy. After struggling with it for half an hour, I finally turned the contents of the bowl out in the trash. It pained me to waste the expensive ingredients, but at that point, I could tell there was no salvaging the recipe. Why throw good time after bad money?

Sometimes in life, despite your best efforts, you can’t salvage a situation. Maybe it’s a job that didn’t work out, a friendship that has gone from being supportive to toxic, or just a recipe gone wrong. If you’ve given it your best effort, there’s no shame in calling it quits. Sometimes the bigger waste is sticking it out when you know the outcome is never going to change.

Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Baking

Lesson #5: When all else fails, turn to the professionals.

I consider myself a pretty good baker, but there are just times when the recipe doesn’t come together, my power goes out in the middle of a bake, or I run out of time to finish what I intended. That’s when I go straight to the professionals: my local bakery. Sure, I might have wanted to present something home-baked, but there are times when the outcome is more important than the process.

The older I get, the more I realize that it’s okay not to do everything yourself. Some things, like taxes and hair color, I believe are best left to professionals. Other things can be great to DIY, but they just don’t fall within my priorities. I might be able to occasionally send a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies to a school party, but I was never going to be like the preschool mom who, on snack day, brought an entire tray of beautifully iced sugar cookies with each child’s name piped in script across the center. Most of the time, store-bought and boxed was going to have to be good enough. Just because you can doesn’t mean you always must.

Now it’s your turn! Tell me, what life lessons have you learned from your own culinary adventures?

(Comment below for your chance to win a copy of Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe, courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers)



Carla Laureano is the RITA Award–winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time.
She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night. Connect with Carla on her website: http://www.carlalaureano.com/


Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Baking
From the RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye comes a sweet, romantic treat that will leave you hungry for more.

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.

The Care and Feeding of Authors With Guest Carla Laureano

The Care and Feeding of Authors With Guest Carla Laureano

Of all God’s creatures, perhaps the most maligned and most misunderstood is the author. It’s easy to see why, really—for all the amazing literary transubstantiation that transforms caffeinated beverages into words, they still have the tendency to wander aimlessly, ramble about imaginary people, and go for long stretches without showering or changing out of yoga pants. You may find them sobbing over their keyboards for no apparent reason or giggling manically to themselves with their fingers flying over their laptop keys. Never fear, however; this behavior is normal and what authors like to call Part of Their Process.

The Care and Feeding of Authors With Guest Carla Laureano

If you have one within your care, you may want to refer to this handy field guide on how to properly care for and feed your author.

1.     Feed your author a well-balanced diet.
Authors may say they can subsist on a steady diet of black coffee and Twizzlers, but this is indeed not the ideal diet for one who lives a mostly sedentary lifestyle. Long hours in front of the computer, frantically typing words beneath a looming deadline, tend to make authors forget about normal things like meal planning and cooking. If you live in a house with an author on deadline, the kindest thing you can do is help plan well-balanced meals that do not involve talking into a speaker or paying a delivery man. It has been scientifically demonstrated that a clean diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables increases both productivity and creativity. For difficult cases, we recommend tossing sliced fruit and bags of baby carrots toward the author’s desk and then backing away slowly.

The Care and Feeding of Authors With Guest Carla Laureano

2.     Take your author for frequent walks.
Because authors live in their own minds for long stretches of time, they have the tendency to forget about the outside world. Yet plenty of research has demonstrated that productivity and focus decrease the longer we spend on a task, and people who take hourly breaks (yes, even to watch funny cat videos on YouTube) are more productive than those who don’t. Additionally breaks taken outside have even greater benefit: a walk around the block can make your author more creative, more focused, and more productive when they return.

3.     Encourage your author to play regularly.
It is easy for your author to get so fixated on the deadline ahead of them that they only make time for their obligations and their work, leaving recreation on the back burner. However, long-term play deprivation has the same effect as sleep deprivation—it can make people cranky, less creative, and more stressed out, none of which are conducive to writing their best work. Whether it’s playing the guitar, putting together Legos with a child, or doing a crossword puzzle, play unrelated to work is vital to your author’s wellbeing.

The Care and Feeding of Authors With Guest Carla Laureano

4.     Expose your author to many different inspirational art forms.
Many authors will limit themselves to reading in their genre for inspiration, which is leaving out an entire world of artistic endeavors to explore. All arts have one thing in common: they’re meant to give the watcher/reader/listener a different view on the world and to make them feel. For writers, that means inspiration can be found across genres and disciplines: dance, music, art, theater. Take your author to a concert, to a play, to the ballet . . .and watch the creativity flow.

5.     Give your author frequent praise, while blocking access to their Amazon rankings and Goodreads reviews.
Authors are strange creatures who rarely believe the praise of strangers but take their criticism directly to heart. If you love an author, the best thing you can do is to remind them how proud you are of them, while limiting their access to the worst of the online criticism. They need to be reminded that they’re more than their ability to write stories and that they’re important no matter how successful (or not) their writing is. The more they can focus on the close relationships in their real life, the more able they will be to brush off the criticism of strangers . . .and the better equipped they will be to make more art.

Of course, there are times when all the above will fail, and it’s important to remember that at heart, authors are still wild creatures. If you find yourself in a situation where none of the above are possible, I suggest that you throw good-quality chocolate . . . and run.

The Care and Feeding of Authors With Guest Carla Laureano

What are your self-care must-haves to keep yourself happy and productive? Tell me in the comments below. One commenter will win a copy of my upcoming novel The Saturday Night Supper Club, releasing February 6, 2018! Or preorder your own copy here.
   

The Care and Feeding of Authors With Guest Carla Laureano
Carla Laureano is the RITA®Award–winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night. Sign up for her newsletter at www.CarlaLaureano.com to get a free e-book romance novella.

Connected with her online: Web | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest 
The One Thing: Finding the Binding Element of Your Story by Carla Laureano5 Reasons Why the Third MacDonald Novel was Worth Waiting ForFive Things I Learned from Writing a Book in Six Weeks by guest Carla LaureanoLife Lessons I’ve Learned from BakingThe Care and Feeding of Authors With Guest Carla Laureano

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