I am so excited! My friends Lauraine and Kathleen have written a chapter book for ages 8-12 – Dog Daze, the first book in The S.A.V.E. Squad series – and it releases today from Barbour Books! And it’s Kathleen’s first book! Yay! I asked the ladies if they would stop by and join us for an interview. Please welcome Lauraine and Kathleen!
Kitty: How did the two of you meet and come to the idea of co-authoring a book?
Kathleen: I still don’t know how it started. I got a flyer for a writing conference I don’t remember asking to get.
Lauraine: We met when I was the teacher at a writer’s workshop in Grand Junction, CO, a bunch of years ago. We stayed in touch and became good friends, thank you Lord.
Kathleen: At the conference, she asked us to raise our hands if we were writers. I didn’t, because I was seriously discouraged about writing fiction for publication. I didn’t want to lie. She noticed that. Then, I said to Lauraine that it would be cool if I could come to her house and have her teach fiction tips. So she began a fiction intensive week at her house. I eventually ended up teaching at it.
Lauraine: We critiqued the projects we were working on separately and several years ago, came up the idea of this series. Now we go camping together, trailer/RV style and what do we talk about—-a lot? Why faith and writing, our two favorite topics. And our dogs. My rescue basset Sir Winston–
Kathleen: —And our rescue border collie, Cash the Wonder Dog. The two couldn’t be more different.
Lauraine: We figure God has a plan for these two couples and this summer, I will have a bike to ride with the others too. Look out world.
Kathleen: I can’t wait. I found her a great bike for $27.50 that retailed for $399 and still looks new.
Lauraine: And yes, Cash the wonder dog, and Sir Winston C ob de mountains, go along–but not on the bikes. We hope that eventually they’ll become as good a friends as we are.
Kathleen: I am not optimistic.
Kitty: Good luck with that. Sounds like you’ll need it! So how are your work habits alike and different from each other?
Lauraine: We both love brainstorming, looking for the unusual and finding the humor in life’s situations. However, Kathleen is a techie whiz and I’m not. But she helps me along, dragging me into today’s world of technical wonders. I brainstorm on paper with a pen or pencil; she adores the cool programs that are out there to assist writers.
Kathleen: Yep. I’m always looking for a way to eliminate the paper issue since I don’t work at a desk. My “office” is wherever I’m sitting at the moment. I use Scrivener in a very basic way to get the scenes going for a story. I wish it was available on the iPad. I have also fallen in love with Evernote for my Android phone, my Mac, and my iPad. I love Infinotes for my iPad for brainstorming. I like moving stuff around.
Lauraine: We both trust that God will give us supremo ideas, and then use our work in ways we can’t even dream of. That makes for exciting discoveries and conversations.
Kathleen: I can tell you that there are things in Dog Daze that were a direct present from God, that’s for sure. They were dancing around and shouting moments when I saw how they enriched the story.
Kitty: Oo, I love stuff like that. How did you work the collaboration?
Lauraine: We brainstorm the ideas, both do research. My favorite is go to the place and talk with the people who are doing or have done what I need to know.
Kathleen: I’m lucky that I have been teaching long enough that there are almost always kids of some age that know about what I’m writing about. Like how whiskers work for cats. For the third book, Second-Hand Horses, I have a former student who is shooting pictures for me at her aunt’s ranch (’cause I need to see a barn and covered corral) and sending me YouTube videos on horses doing the very thing I need to know about. She’s loving it and so am I. I’ve gotten to see up close and personal the great work that rescue organizations are doing in my local area as well.
Lauraine: We go back and forth in the idea stage and critique the outline or synopsis. Then Kathleen writes the story with me commenting. We go back and forth with suggestions. We meet and talk more through; we both love to work in coffee shops with lattes at hand.
Kathleen: That’s my favorite way to work. Us with our husbands and dogs and RVs in the same place and finding the local coffee shop–with high speed wifi. And then a good hot tub later.
Lauraine: And then the final edits. Now we are learning more about marketing and publicity. There’s a lot that goes into the making of a book that readers will love.
Kitty: I’ve brainstormed with you two in a hot tub. The ideas come faster than we can write them down! I understand you two used Skype to line edit the book together. How did that go?
Lauraine: We did use Skype and it was a great experience, me from my office in Tehachapi, CA–
Kathleen: —And me from my travel trailer on a lake in Utah where my husband and border collie were spending the month working and living. Lauraine kept talking about how amazing it was we could do this.
Lauraine: We went over Dog Daze line by line, word by word. What a marvelous way to rewrite and edit. Our editor was rather pleased too. So few changes needed.
Kathleen: As in about eight! And most of them were about timeline bumps that show up after chopping and editing.
Kitty: That’s amazing! Was this a first for you to publish a children’s book?
Kathleen: Yup! Well, make that, publish any book. I’m a complete newbie and shrieking my head off regularly now that I’ve touched Dog Daze, which is Book #1 of the four-book series The S.A.V.E. Squad. Miss Eight Million Published next to me here can tell you about her kid series.
Lauraine: Not a first for me. My lifetime dream was to write horse books for girls. So my first book was titled Tragedy on the Toutle about a family that lived in the valley when Mt. St. Helens erupted. The title now on the reissue is What About Cimmaron? By the way, a first clue for beginning writers is to write what you know. Cimmaron lived in our back yard and belonged to my daughter Marie and I. He was quite a character.
Since then I have written twenty children’s books with the horse theme, two series of ten books each. The Golden Filly series and the High Hurdles series. Both series are now available in four volumes of five books each.
Kitty: How is writing for children different from writing for adults?
Lauraine: The main difference is the age of the characters. The pacing is usually faster too with less introspection, characters thinking and feeling things. But readers of all ages have enjoyed these series because they are books about families.
Kathleen: I think the dialogue is different as well as word choice. Kids see things differently and can be very profound in a very short comment. The four girls and CP, the neighbor boy, all are smart kids who don’t miss much. As an example of a kid and their depth of feeling but short of speech, here’s a quote from the book that a reviewer used as a favorite: “”A forever home,” she said, rolling the words around in her mouth. They sounded safe.”
Kitty: There are four books, right? How did you get the idea for the series?
Lauraine: Kathleen and I have both had numerous rescued pets and I wrote an adult book called Breaking Free about rescued Bassets and Thoroughbred race horses who could no longer work the track. Disposable animals? How sad, so we try to do something about that. But one day we were talking and you could have seen the lighbulbs going off over our heads. What if?
Kathleen: Two of my favorite words–what if. As a fiction coach, I gained the nickname The Whatif Girl.
Lauraine: Now those are two magic words for writers. What if we were to do a series for girls about rescuing animals? I think we’d just read one of those marvelous stories of all the great things that kids manage to accomplish. The ideas started popping and haven’t stopped.
Kitty: That’s so cool. And the girls are so different. How did you come up with such differences?
Kathleen: I wanted to make the girls very different and tie each girl’s story arc with the animal’s need. I was very intentional with where they each went to school and what their personalities were like. One 5-star review mentioned the girls were so diverse, any girl could find herself relating to one of them. That’s what I was going for!
Lauraine: That is always a goal for story tellers, make your characters different so they react to things differently, so the reader knows which character they are reading about at that moment. So we talked about general differences and then Kathleen hit on the different education programs for our girls. We thought of three, but then four girls and a neighbor boy just kind of waved their hands and screamed “pick me, pick me.” So we did.
Kathleen: How the name of the squad came about was very cool. Makes me want to spin thinking about it! I can’t tell you anymore than that, ’cause you have to read the book, but it’s neat.
Lauraine: It really put some major pieces in the wild puzzle called, figure out the story. Just think how boring this world would be if everyone were exactly alike?
Kitty: So true. Which girl do you think you’re most like?
Lauraine: Probably Sunny since she is such a great example of a sanguine personality. And not finishing things? Hey, I’ve spent most of my life as the queen of starting great and then having another to-be-finished project somewhere. Sunny spins when she is excited and I rub my knuckles together and look about to fly. Just ask some of my cousins. See me doing the eye roll thing. After all these years, that’s what they remember about me most? Not good.
Kathleen: Yayness! (one of Sunny’s words). She is the fave so far of everyone who’s read the book. For me, I’d like to be Sunny and have such a great view of life and fun. Some days I’m Sunny, only I wave my arms instead of spin. Other days, I’ve got my hands flying to my hips with a real Esther thing going on or I’m making lists like Vee. I’m not much like Aneta, although I have a friend who’s very MUCH like Aneta.
Kitty: This sound so fun! Are there any other children’s books planned from either of you?
Lauraine: I certainly hope so, although maybe a better term is dreamed rather than planned at the moment.
Kathleen: I have a magic realism series for the same age group that is close to getting the proposal finished. The rest are women’s contemporary and cozy mystery book and series ideas in varying stages of finished and pitch-able.
Kitty: What other books are in the works for you?
Lauraine: Since I write both contemporary and historical novels, I have others coming out in both genres. Currently I am finishing up a three-book series titled Wild West Wind, set in South Dakota. Wind Dancer is a black and white paint who excels in performing as part of a trick riding act, with his human Cassie. George the bull buffalo also plays a part, oh and don’t forget, Othello who likes to ride behind Cassie. Wind Dancer doesn’t mind.
Kitty: Wow, what a fascinating and exciting journey! I’m sure our readers will be looking for Dog Daze today, and your other books, too! Thanks so much for joining us!
Lauraine and Kathleen will be stopping in during the day to chat with us, so please leave your questions and comments below. Dog Daze is available today at your local bookstore and at online retailers. You can watch the totally cute book trailer on YouTube. I hope you enjoyed our interview!
Award-winning and best selling author Lauraine Snelling began living her dream to be a writer with her first published book for young adult readers, Tragedy on the Toutle, in 1982. She has since continued writing more horse books for young girls, adding historical and contemporary fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers to her repertoire. All told, she has more than sixty books published. You can follow her on Facebook.
Kathleen Wright teaches writing to homeschoolers and online college freshmen and can’t wait to buy a student’s first novel! Her first series debuts in March with book one Dog Daze in The S.A.V.E Squad series, co-authored with good friend Lauraine Snelling.When Utah-based Kathleen’s not dreaming up adventures for her characters, she’s riding bikes with her husband, playing pickleball, and trying to convince her rescued Border Collie that Mom knows best. Join her on Facebook and Twitter.