Meet Writer Laura Graham Booth

Two-time Golden Heart® finalist Laura Graham Booth writes award-winning romances that fall where women’s fiction meets contemporary romance. In addition to her 2002 and 2007 GH finals, her stories have placed in a number of chapter contests.

Laura always wanted to be a writer but took the “scenic route” to get there. In college, she majored in mathematics instead of English and spent the next fifteen years designing computer software. When she and her husband moved from Pennsylvania to Maryland, it seemed like the perfect time to take up a new hobby: writing the romance novels she’d always loved to read.

Embarking on a new quest, motherhood took her life in another direction, but she finally figured out how to combine all her interests. Today Laura juggles her time writing romance novels; running her own business, LGB Designs, where she designs websites for authors and small businesses; and taking care of her growing family.

Laura lives with her family and two fat cats along the Chesapeake Bay, where she spends entirely too much time looking at sailboats, knitting and daydreaming.

Join me as we learn about more about Laura and her writing journey.

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Laura Graham Booth

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The Early Days of Laura’s Journey

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•You began your first story years nearly ten ago. What prompted your decision to embark on your writing journey?

I’ve always been an avid romance reader. When my husband and I moved to Maryland ten years ago, he took a job that involved a lot of travel, leaving me in a town where I hardly knew anyone outside of my small office. As a result, I indulged my love of reading and developed a very expensive Barnes & Noble habit. 🙂 My husband suggested that I write that book I was always talking about writing… so I blame him for my writing addiction!

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•Your first story was a Regency romance, which, as I understand it, is the only historical you’ve written. Why did you begin with that tale? Were you enamored with Jane Austen? Had you just drooled over Colin Firth’s rendition of Mr. Darcy? Do you have a fascination with English titles and estates? Or all three?

I’ve always loved to read historical romances. They sweep you so far away from reality. Most of the heroes are wealthy, titled men who don’t have to work for a living. The heroines are young, gorgeous, privileged women who spend their days paying calls and preparing for balls. It’s hard to keep worrying about your own job or paying your bills when you’re reading a story like that!

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Laura’s Change of Direction

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•After completing that Regency, life intervened and you were unable to write as much as before. When you could, though, you worked on your second book. But this was a contemporary romance. What brought about the change of subgenres?

When my husband and I decided to start a family, some of the “romance” of a time period with high infant and maternal death rates disappeared for me! I started writing my first contemporary romance as a little break, always intending to go back to historicals. But writing historicals was challenging for me, because of the large amounts of research involved. I was petrified of getting something horribly wrong, so I’d often get stuck for days on a tiny detail.

My contemporaries are almost always set in places I’ve lived, so it was much easier for me to write those settings and add rich details without worrying that I was making a mistake. Plus, I really like writing contemporary characters. I can relate to a woman juggling a career and motherhood much better than I can relate to a sixteen-year-old virgin heiress in search of a titled husband!

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•You’ve completed two contemporaries. What ideas sparked them?

I get ideas everywhere! Most of them come from what-if questions. My historical came from the question, “What if a woman thought she had both bloodlines and dowry, and then found out she had neither?” My first contemporary romance wondered, “What if a female musician thought she was on top of the world… until one tragic night when her world fell apart?” I love putting characters in situations they didn’t expect and seeing how they cope with adversity. 🙂

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•Since one of your heroes is a software engineer, I wonder, how much of your stories stem from your own experiences? Do your characters have aspects of your personality, or are they different from you in every way?

I doubt any writer puts themselves entirely into any character. I tend to think that real people are so complex, there’s no way we could completely describe them in 100,000 words and still have room for a plot and other characters! But I do pick tiny pieces—habits, gestures, speech patterns—from people I meet in real life. I believe that really talented authors are able to take fictional characters and give them those truthful “grains” that make them become real people in our imaginations, so that’s what I try to do in my own work.

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Laura’s Successes

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•Your first milestone occurred three years into your writing journey. You received the call many a writer longs to get. A Romance Writers of America® board member called in 2002 to tell you your Regency, If You Knew Me, was a finalist. Even though it’s been over seven years since that momentous occasion, I’m sure you can still remember your reaction. Please share it with us.

I was totally flabbergasted. It was my first book, and the GH was the first contest I’d ever entered. So getting that call really was one of the biggest surprises of my life!

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•Wow! How impressive to land a GH final in your first contest. That must have been so encouraging. RWA called again in 2007 when Sing for Me finaled in Single Title Contemporary. Was your whooping and hollering as loud as the first timeor even louder?

I think it was probably louder. 🙂 The first time around, it seemed so easy. But between 2002 and 2007, I’d received a ton of rejection letters, was having a hard time finding time to write, and was halfway convinced that I should just give up. But I really loved that story and spent a couple of months before the deadline gutting it and putting it back together again. Finaling in the GH told me that maybe I’d finally figured out how to edit!

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•Your stories have placed in a number of chapter contests, including The Golden Pen, The Marlene and The Sheila. Which of your wins have meant the most to you, and why?

They’ve all meant a lot, so it’s hard to pick one. I’ve made some wonderful friends through my GH finals. But the good wishes and support I’ve received from my local chaptermates for my finals in chapter contests have also been wonderful.

I think the most fun I’ve ever had at an awards program was this past October, when my good friend (and conference roommate) Carla Kempert and I tied in the Put Your Heart in a Book Contest. It was so much fun to go up to receive our awards together!

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Laura’s Process

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•How do you juggle your writing, website designing and personal endeavors? Do you adhere to a strict writing schedule with daily goals for word or page count, or are you grateful for blocks of time you’re able to carve out of your busy life?

I am very grateful for any blocks of time I can carve out! I try to set schedules, but they rarely turn out as planned. The web world moves quickly, so if I’m in the middle of designing a new site, that tends to take over. And when you have a job and kids, there are always interruptions and crises you didn’t plan on dealing with that day. I tend to go on writing jags where I write a lot in a shorter period of time, then take time off to think about the story (and deal with my other responsibilities).

I am a huge fan of April Kihlstrom’s Book-in-a-Week techniques. I went on a writers’ retreat this fall with my two critique partners, which was amazing. We used mealtimes to talk craft, help each other plot, or figure out some detail that was holding us back, so when we broke off to go write, that time was much more productive than it would have been at home. I’d love to do that again.

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•Do you enter your creative zone most easily when you write in silence and seclusion, find balance working with your family around you, or reach your creative best in a coffee house amidst the bustle of activity?

I need silence and the coffee house. Crazy, right? I have a hard time writing at home, where there are so many interruptions. I always think, “I’ll just…” put in a load of laundry, take care of a quick task online, sort through this stack of mail, etc., and then end up losing my whole morning. When I go to my local coffee shop, there’s loads of noise and confusion, but it’s not my noise and confusion. I don’t have to deal with it, so I can tune it out.

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•As a mathematician and software engineer, I can imagine you have an appreciation for logical progression and order. Does this carry over into your writing, making you a Plotter with a capital P, or do you let yourself go and work with the free form of a pantser?

I’m somewhere in the middle. My first book was written completely by the seat of my pants. I had one idea, and one scene in the middle of the book that I knew needed to be there, but the rest of it sort of came as I went along. That book also has a lot of holes!

I do more planning these days, but I am a very character-driven writer, so my plots tend to come more from how I want my characters to feel than from intricate plot outlines. I think the balance between plotting and pantsing is part of my writer’s journey, and I haven’t quite pinned it down yet.

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Laura’s Journey Continues

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You’ve completed one Regency and two contemporary stories. What are you working on now?

Another contemporary. This one is category-length, so it’s a big departure for me to try to tell a satisfying story in a little bit more than half the space I’ve had before! But on the other hand, it’s a little bit easier, because the story is so focused on my hero and heroine that I can really let their relationship guide the plot. So far I’m having a blast with these characters, but that may change when I need to cut 50,000 words to fit the specified word count! 🙂

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Five Aspects of Writing Laura Most Enjoys

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~ I love writing from the male POV, especially scenes where the hero is interacting with his buddies. I am fascinated by how different men are from women when it comes to hanging out with their friends!

~ I love it when characters surprise me. My friends and family look at me sort of oddly when I tell them that something happened in my story that I didn’t expect, but I think that’s the beauty of pantsing or of BIAW-type writing: You open yourself up to those sorts of discoveries.

~ I love getting to a pivotal scene, particularly the so-called “black moment.” Because I approach romance from the emotional impact side, all the emotions that I put into my characters from page 1 build and build until these scenes explode onto the page and almost write themselves.

~ I love starting a new story: Coming up with a really great, attention-grabbing first scene, introducing each character, and capturing their initial reactions to each other. If I’m not in love with the characters and the story by then, I know readers won’t be either, so it has to feel great.

~ I love writing “THE END.” (I suspect most writers feel this way!) Writing is really hard work for me, so getting through to the end of the book means I’ve put a huge amount of blood, sweat, and tears into that story. Of course, then the editing starts, which isn’t something I love!

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Five Little Known Facts About Laura

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~ I picked mathematics as my college major because when I started college at Virginia Tech, it was the only major that you could transfer into the engineering program from. I never meant to graduate with a math degree, I just thought I should keep my options open! (And, okay, I really wanted to major in English and become a journalist, but the lack of job prospects concerned my parents!)

~ I spent years insisting that I wasn’t a creative person. Mathematicians aren’t supposed to be creative, right? So I took up quilting. Nope, not creative. Quilts use shapes, so they’re mathematical. I took up photography (which I’m not great at, but I mastered the basics). Nope, still not creative. I took up writing. That was just an anomaly. Started designing websites. Nope, it’s programming, no matter how many hours I spend designing in Photoshop. Finally I took up knitting and started designing my own patterns and admitted… maybe I am creative. But just a little bit!

~ I would love to be able to sing, play a musical instrument, or paint. I’ve tried all of the above, but was never as good at any of them as I was at writing, so I gave up. Much to my eternal disappointment!

~ I am completely addicted to knitting. Knitting patterns and the calculations you need to do to obtain a certain shape appeal to the mathematical side of my brain, and the knitting process appeals to my long-denied creative side. It’s all good!

~ I am also addicted to yoga. I am probably the least-athletic person in the universe, but discovering yoga saved me from a life of back pain, for which I will be eternally grateful!

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Laura’s Question for You

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•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Laura. Thanks for your great answers to my questions. Now it’s your turn to ask a question of your visitors, so have at it.

I am always fascinated to hear why people read romance. What makes a book a “keeper” for you? Is it the hero, a plot that keeps you guessing, an adventure that keeps you on the edge of your seat?

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Learn More About Laura

Visit her websites ~ www.lauragrahambooth.com and www.lgb-designs.com

Visit her group blog ~ www.nobodywritesitbetter.com

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Leave a Comment for Two Chances to Win

To leave a comment, click on “Comments” below the date in the title at the top of the post.

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My Regular Drawing

My next drawing will take place November 20th. I’m giving away a wooden plaque with the words ~ and they lived happily ever after . . .

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HEA plaque

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To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by November 20th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On November 21st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.

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You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook

If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and November 30th. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.

On December 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your debut novel in your hands.

(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)

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Note: Offers void where prohibited.

Prizes will be mailed to US addresses only.

Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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29 Responses to Meet Writer Laura Graham Booth

  1. Michelle says:

    I love this, Elise!

    But I think it takes a lot more hutzpah to face the world with the determination to turn a tragic situation into a comic one, whether that gets done through humor, optimism, or sheer perseverance. And so now I’m quite open about my defense of romance: it guarantees a happy ending, with all the grit needed to get there.

  2. Michelle says:

    Laura,
    I’m not sure why I couldn’t get into sci fi/fantasy as a girl. They were such boy books to me, but I’ve met lots of women who read sci fi/fantasy when they were younger looking for strong heroines. Did you have any favorites? I always wonder what I missed?

  3. Quilt Lady says:

    Hi Laura, I read romance for the Happy Ever After! A keeper book for me is one that is autograghed or one that has keep me up until three a.m. to finish. Those books you just can’t put down.

  4. Linda Henderson says:

    I read romance for the happily ever after. For the interaction between characters. Yes the adventure too. I enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations of the characters before they get their happy ending. I’ve been a romance reader since the 1960’s. Can’t see it changing anytime soon.

Comments are closed.