It may be hotter than you-know-what where you live, but Christmas is only five months away! To celebrate a little Christmas in July, I’m welcoming my friend Laurie Germaine to the blog. Laurie’s award-winning debut novel, “Tinsel in a Tangle,” is everything Christmasy and awesome; it’ll put you right in the spirit no matter what the weather!
In the arctic town of Flitterndorf, generations of elves have worked alongside generations of Kringles to make gifts for believing children worldwide. Never have they endured a tall, blundering elf like Tinsel, though. Despite her setbacks, Tinsel's determined to prove her worth by nabbing an internship at the Workshop. But when her latest mishap destroys gift reserves and puts Christmas in jeopardy, she lands a punishment mucking reindeer stalls for Santa's hotshot grandson, Niklas. Now if she wants a second chance at that position, she must collaborate with the twinkle-eyed flirt to redeem herself in everyone's eyes without messing up. For one more calamity will not only bring about the holiday's demise, she'll be immortalized as the elf who shattered children's faith in Santa Claus.
So not the way she wants to go down in history.
I can hear the jingle bells now! To further boost the Christmas spirit, Laurie is offering a giveaway of a copy of “Tinsel in a Tangle!” One lucky commenter to this post will win their choice of either ebook or paperback! Winner will be announced and notified one week from today, August 1!
Welcome to the blog, Laurie!
Thank you for having me!
What inspired you to start writing?
Like many writers, I read a lot growing up. Mostly fantasy books that brought me to new worlds and people, which would, in turn, develop a hunger in me to create my own worlds and characters. I put writing on hold during my college years—no brain cells left at the end of a long day learning and studying!—but as soon as I graduated (twenty years ago now), the words began pouring out of me.
What was your inspiration for Tinsel in a Tangle?
Many years ago, my mom gave me a 1000-piece puzzle of The Dept 56 North Pole Series. It would be several years before I actually had time to put it together, but just looking at the picture conjured up ideas of how my own Santa village might operate. I was also familiar with the picture of Santa kneeling at the manger, called Every Knee Shall Bow, by Gaye Francis Willard, and I thought it would be fantastic for my Kringle family to be one of faith. (After all, Santa-the-legend wouldn’t exist today if Jesus hadn’t been born in the first place.) The faith thread is not a blatant part of the story, but rather it blends into the background, working behind the scenes in shaping my characters’ personalities and actions.
What does your writing routine look like, if you have one? What obstacles or challenges do you face in making time to write?
My routine has changed as my kids have grown. Before my girls entered kindergarten, I would write during their naptimes and quiet times, and my hubby blessed me most months with two or more Saturdays in which I’d scurry off to the local library right after breakfast and not return until dinnertime. That kept me sane. Even after my kids entered school, I’ve continued being a stay-home mom, so I have more hours in the day during the school year to write. Summers are still my least productive time of year for obvious reasons, but this year I’ve attempted to claim the first hour or two (or more, when I can!) in the mornings to write.
As for obstacles or challenges, I think we all know how easy it is to put something on the back burner that doesn’t need to be done “right now,” and/or doesn’t bring in much—if any—money. So, recognizing when writing should (and shouldn’t) take priority is a challenge, as is the discipline to follow through on those times it should, especially when life gets messy, busy, and/or unpredictable.
How has God changed you during your writing journey?
My writing journey now spans two decades, so He’s changed me for the better in many small ways, yet there are some things I still wrestle with. Considering my debut novel didn’t see publication until I was eighteen years into my journey, I’ve had to be patient. I won’t say I learned patience; I just had to figure out how to deal with needing to be patient. ;) And now that I’m published, there’s that societal pressure to get the next book written and the expectation that it should have been done “yesterday.” But I’m a slow writer and my creativity shuts down under too much pressure—real or perceived—so I’ve had to learn to give myself grace and accept that God has me on a different, slower path than more prolific writers. Trusting that He knows what He’s doing and knows why He has me on the path He does, isn’t always easy. Especially when God speaks in whispers and the writing world shouts through a megaphone. :P
What is one piece of advice you’d give to your younger Writer Self?
Don’t compare your writing or your writing journey to another writer.
I know—soooo hard not to do this, and social media doesn’t help in the slightest. Not only do we now have to “compete” with people in our local and online writer’s groups, or with those we meet at conferences, but now we must “compete” with the entire world’s #writingcommunity on Twitter and Facebook, to say nothing of those ah-MAZE-ing book promo pics on Instagram! I put compete in quotes, because it’s not reality. Writing is not a mad dash to the finish line with only one winner. It’s a long, windy marathon and our only competition is our past self.
I wish I could say I’ve overcome this hurdle in my own journey, but I smash into it all too often. It’s one of the reasons why I can’t spend too much time on Twitter. Jealousy doesn’t look good on me, you know? ;) For me, it comes down to, “Do I trust God in what He’s doing in my life and where He’s bringing me in my writing journey?” I know what success supposedly looks like according to the world; but what does Laurie Germaine’s success look like from God’s POV? I won’t know until I’ve run my own race at my own pace.
If you could have coffee/tea/gratuitous amounts of carbs with any author(s), living or dead, who would you choose? What would you talk about?
I think I’d love to sit down with any author who’s able to pen a well-crafted book every 6-12 months. Kasie West, Susan May Warren, and Karen Witemeyer are the first three that spring to mind. I’d ask them how they come up with a working plot and likeable characters and flesh out enough drafts of a story that it can be polished and on bookshelves in less than 12 months (Kasie West has been pumping out a book every six months for a couple years now, and come early September, Susan May Warren will have released three books within six months). How! How does one do that? For someone who’s struggling with draft #2 of her sequel, after starting a year and a half ago, I sit in awe.
How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?
Doing all those things that make a household run and acting as chauffeur to my kids (though Driver’s Ed is in the near future for my oldest). If I find extra time or I take a break from writing, I usually knit—anything from fingerless mitts to felted bags to stuffed animals (or the MCs of my Christmas stories)—or create dioramas for my 16” fashion dolls, or revitalize a piece of worn-out furniture with paint, fabric, and Mod Podge.
How can we pray for you?
Thank you for asking this! A simple question with powerful results.
Although I’ve gotten better in the last two years, I still struggle with negative self-talk at times, which is problematic since a writer requires a cooperative mind, not a mind that seeks to sabotage its owner with restrictive thoughts. I feel like Captain Marvel, actually, when she realizes she’s been fighting with one hand metaphorically tied behind her back. I persist in this writing craft with one hand tied behind my back: a mind bent toward the negative rather than the positive. But after a few decades, I grow weary of the battle. I crave freedom—permission, if you will—to think optimistically about myself, my abilities, my future. So that’s what I’d love prayer for—freedom from the shackles of a negative mindset.
As a New England native who once dreamed of raising her family in Europe, Laurie is a walking testimony to God’s sense of humor, since she now lives (quite happily) in Montana with her husband, two daughters, and their mellow Alaskan Malamute. When she’s not honing important life skills as a stay-home mom or immersed in her latest manuscript, you can find her hands hard at work knitting or crafting for her family, friends, home, or fashion dolls.