Today I’m excited to welcome author Laura Chapman to my blog. First and Goal, Laura’s third novel and the first in her Queen of the League series is out today, and Laura was kind enough to stop by for a Q&A. Read on to find out her inspiration behind First & Goal, her journey to becoming a published author, and her tips for any aspiring authors out there.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Then beat them.
About the Book
When Harper Duquaine’s no-nonsense approach to work unintentionally ruffles the wrong feathers at her new job, she joins her co-workers’ fantasy football league to prove she can hang with the guys. Only problem: she doesn’t know a sleeper from a keeper (or any of the other lingo thrown her way).
Embroiled in a world of lineups, stats, and trades, Harper’s quest to make nice topples when her competitive streak emerges. And her promise to herself that she’ll be a strong, independent woman and leave the drama and heartache behind is seriously tested when she catches the attention of her two biggest competitors: J.J., a local celebrity determined to win a fantasy championship, and Brook, the mild-mannered coach who seems too good to be true. Both threaten her resolve to remain single… and, more importantly, her chances at winning the prize pool.
With a slew of conflicting advice in her real and fantasy worlds, Harper must figure out how to play the game and come out a winner.
Hi Laura, and thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for my readers. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel, First & Goal?
First & Goal is the story of Harper Duquaine, a twenty-something looking to smooth over tension with her new co-workers. Hoping to make nice, she joins their fantasy football league to get to know them better. But rather than being a fun way to make some new friends, it brings out her ultra-competitive side and some secrets from her past. Along the way she has her broomies (brothers + roommates), new friends, and a love interest to help her navigate the game.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was invited to join a fantasy football league three years ago. I was living with my brothers at the time, so I was familiar with the premise, but hadn’t really experienced it. I was about halfway through my first live draft when I realized it could be a lot of fun to write about fantasy football from a woman’s perspective. It took a couple of years to come up with the specifics for the story. I’ve also managed five fantasy leagues (one in year two, and two a year after). Each experience inspired new ideas, which is how it turned into a series.
First & Goal is your third novel. As a writer, how have things changed since you wrote your first book?
So far, each book has been a great learning experience for me. With my first book, I learned how to get to “the end” and do revisions. With book two, I learned how to build more tension. And with this book, I explored another side of my voice. Writing this book was kind of a break-through for me. While the first two were hard-fought to write and revise (it took me years to get them publication-ready) I was able to apply a lot of the lessons and experiences with those towards producing this one more efficiently. I also lost a lot of confidence in myself between writing the first draft of book one and the first draft of this book. Writing this helped me get some of my swagger back. It was also a bit like “opening a can of worms.” Halfway through writing this, I realized I wanted to do a series. It also launched a super-productive period of writing I’ve experienced during the past. That was pretty exciting.
Do you write full time? What is a typical day like for you?
I actually work as a communications/marketing person for a museum forty hours a week, so I have to balance my writing career around it. A typical day involves spending an hour or two writing, editing, or handling marketing for my writing. If I’m heavily involved in a writing project, I’ll do some additional work over lunch. I do the bulk of my work at night and on the weekends. The more excited I am about a project, the more time I spend on it. I keep trying to build a solid routine, but it fluctuates. I also try to work in some time for fun with my family and friends, but I don’t get as much of that right now. Fortunately they’re all understanding and supportive.
Do you suffer from writer’s block/writer laziness? How do you overcome this?
This definitely happens from time to time. It used to happen all the time during my first couple of years building a writing career. About a year ago, though, it really occurred to me that if I wanted to be successful I just had to get whatever was holding me back. Part of that was laziness, the other was my dealing with anxiety. So about a year ago I went to see a counselor to learn some tips for dealing with the anxiety, and I put those tools into use every day. (Some days I’m more successful at it than others.) For dealing with the laziness, I set a goal to spend at least a few minutes of every day doing something related to planning, writing, or editing a book. Not all of my work results in a finished product, but it keeps me going and prevents me from getting rusty.
As a fellow author and cat owner, have you ever sat down with your laptop and a coffee, watched your feline ‘assistants’ curl up in a ball and close their eyes, and thought, actually I could really do with a nap myself right now (despite the fact you woke up less than an hour ago)?
No joke, this happens almost every day. Usually my cats are the ones who wake me up in the morning—they’re both morning snugglers and they appreciate my involvement. So when I sit down to write and see them going back to sleep, I get jealous. And then I’m a mean cat mama and usually wake them up and tell them they can’t nap until I leave.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you became a published author?
I’ve wanted to be a lot of things in my life—an actress, pop star, astronaut, doctor, teacher—but the one thing I always knew I wanted to do was be a storyteller. I started writing a couple of books when I was in college, but I didn’t finish my first one until I did National Novel Writing Month in 2010. At the time I figured I’d done the hardest part, but there’s a lot more to publishing a book than writing it. There are rewrites and edits. There’s querying and searching for the right publishing plan for your story. It took me a few years to rework Hard Hats and Doormats, but in December 2013 I was fortunate to have Marching Ink publish it.
What are your tips for any aspiring authors out there?
The best, most important thing you can do is to just write. It sounds simple, but it can be tough. It’s so easy to make excuses or to let your insecurities get in the way. That’s another big piece of advice: believe in yourself. If you’re like me, you won’t do that all the time, but it’s good to remind yourself that your story matters. I also encourage people to make time for writing. It can be like working out—it feels like a chore. But the more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it, and the harder it becomes to skip. And be patient with yourself, the process, and others. Sometimes it all goes as planned, others it doesn’t. It’s good if you can keep your sense of humor through it.
What’s next for your readers?
I have a couple of projects in production that I’m pretty excited to share. My publisher, Marching Ink, will release a Christmas anthology this holiday season. I’m thrilled to be part of that. I’ll also have Going for Two, the follow-up to First & Goal, coming out soon. With these books in post-production, I’m in the early stages of my next writing project, which is one of my favorite places to be. I seem to be in a crazy productive mode right now. I hope it’s sustainable and that you readers don’t get sick of me!
About the Author
Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, The Marrying Type, and Hard Hats and Doormats. Her work appears in Merry & Bright, A Kind of Mad Courage, and a forthcoming Christmas anthology from Marching Ink. A native Nebraskan, she loves Huskers and Packers football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Laura is currently in pursuit of a fantasy football championship while penning her next novel.
Connect with Laura