Writer Highlight: Laurie Germaine
Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know author Laurie Germaine. Not only is this Montana-dweller a talented writer, she’s also a loving wife, a wonderful mom, and an overall incredible woman of God. The writing on her blog is honest and beautiful, and her fiction is downright hilarious. Her upcoming novel, Tinsel in a Tangle, is all of those combined—and it’s hitting electronic bookshelves October 3rd.
In Tinsel in a Tangle, seventeen-year-old Tinsel pursues an esteemed position at Santa’s Workshop, but her clumsy ways make a mess of Christmas worldwide. Now, the only position in her future is a permanent spot on the Naughty List—unless she can redeem herself with the help of some über-talkative reindeer…and one annoyingly cute Kringle.
I got to catch up with Laurie at this year’s American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) Conference in Dallas, where we delved into her upcoming book and what it’s like to be a writer. Here’s what she had to say…
Why do you write?
Because I can’t not write. I usually have characters jabbering around in my head, wanting to be set free on “paper,” so I try to figure out their stories and write them down. I’m not as quick at this as other writers, but you know you’re passionate about something when you inhale nonfiction books on the subject like they’re bonbons from a confectionery shop. I also look at writing stories as a way for me to (hopefully) encourage other believers in their faith as they follow my characters through their different struggles and doubts.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? How did you turn that dream into a reality?
I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since elementary school, but even though I wrote throughout my childhood, I couldn’t give it the attention it required until after I graduated college, when I no longer had homework and exams hanging overhead. That’s when I began to turn the dream into a reality. I wrote every spare minute, studied any book on the craft I could find, and completed a correspondence course with the Institute of Children’s Literature. Then, several years ago,
I became a member of ACFW, an online writing community that offers—among other options—monthly courses and a critique loop (which I highly recommend).
The journey has taken longer than my child-self imagined, since negative self-talk and postpartum depression have been huge obstacles to maneuver over the years. I used to feel apologetic about that, but I’ve just recently come to realize this is not a failure. I am, in fact, a success story because I’ve persevered and accomplished my goal despite the depression and self-derision.
Tell us about your upcoming book, Tinsel in a Tangle.
It’s a Christmas fantasy-romance about a seventeen-year-old elf and her misadventures as she vies for an esteemed position at Santa’s Workshop. When her clumsy ways end up putting Christmas in jeopardy, Tinsel lands a punishment mucking reindeer stalls for Santa’s hotshot grandson, Niklas. If she wants a second chance at that internship, she must collaborate with the twinkle-eyed flirt to redeem herself in everyone’s eyes—provided she doesn’t mess up again. For one more calamity will not only bring about the holiday’s demise, Tinsel will be immortalized as the elf who shattered children’s faith in Santa Claus.
So not the way she wants to go down in history.
How did you come up with the idea for Tinsel?
Two pictures inspired the foundation for Tinsel. First, long ago, my mom had given me a 1000-piece puzzle depicting Dept 56’s North Pole Series, and I was instantly smitten. I knew then that I wanted to write a full-length novel showcasing the fantasy side of Christmas, but I didn’t know anything beyond that. Not the characters, not the plot. So I tucked it away for another day. Second, I love that picture of Santa kneeling at the manger. If it weren’t for Jesus’ birth, stories of Santa wouldn’t exist, and I wanted to play off the idea that Santa knows his purpose is to point people to the real Reason for the season. Fast-forward almost ten years to December of 2012, when my writer’s group had a short writing assignment for a Christmas party. In brainstorming for the assignment, I suddenly discovered who my two main characters were, and then through an ACFW course in February of ’13, I discovered the story’s plot and began fleshing it out.
Give us an insight into your main character. What is she like and how is she special/unique?
Tinsel is optimistic and determined. She’s different from the other elves in that she’s human-sized (thanks to her great-grandmother’s unorthodox decision many decades earlier), so she’s constantly fighting an uphill battle to prove her worth to the community. When serving a Penalty for yet another mishap, she discovers she can talk to the reindeer, a talent unique not only among the elves, but also among the Kringle family members.
Which actress would you envision playing Tinsel?
Ooo, that’s a tough question, since I’ve always envisioned a fun, CGI-animated version of Tinsel. After mulling it over, however (and doing some online sleuthing), I think Mackenzie Foy would make a cute, quirky Tinsel. All she needs to do is dye her hair red for a few months of filming. 😉
Which character from Tinsel do you most relate to and why?
Never mind. This is the tough question. Oy. I think I relate most to Tinsel’s friend, Gina. If I’m blessed to write a sequel to Tinsel, Gina will play a larger role, and I’ve discovered our tastes are similar. Who knew we’d share a doll fetish?
Tinsel in a Tangle is a young adult Christmas novel, which is a pretty specific genre. What draws you to that particular niche? Do you plan to keep writing in that genre or will you try your hand at others too?
I’ve always been crazy in love with Christmas. The decorations, the lights, hot cocoa, snow days…for me, it really is the most wonderful time of the year. And since I had so much fun writing Tinsel, I’m sure I’ll write another Christmas novel. But I also have some ideas for inspirational romances and a YA fantasy I’d love to flesh out.
Where can readers find Tinsel in a Tangle and get their hands on a copy?
The digital format is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. A paperback version is not yet available, but I’m optimistic (see? I’m learning from Tinsel) that it will be an option through Amazon before this Christmas season is over.
I love what you’re doing with the proceeds from this book. Will you tell us a little more about that?
In a nutshell, I read a nonfiction book several years ago that broke my heart and brought me to a place where I promised God my first published book. Kind of like how Hannah promised God her firstborn son in 1 Samuel 1-2. So, all the proceeds I receive from the sale of Tinsel will go toward helping girls rescued from sex trafficking. Initially, I will donate to Agape International Ministries, agapewebsite.org, but there are two USA-based ministries that have caught my eye, as well. Over time, I might give to one or both of them. Please don’t put me on any kind of pedestal, though, as I often wrestle with generous giving. This is more a matter of being obedient to what I feel God has put on my heart.
What was your favorite thing about writing Tinsel? What was the hardest?
Writing Tinsel was cathartic for me, since I was trying to rediscover my joy in the craft. At the onset, I asked myself what makes me happy, what makes me smile, and the answer was a no-brainer: Christmas and German. Thus, getting to stay in the Christmas mindset for almost three years and playing around with the German language were my two favorite things. Figuring out the climax of the story was the hardest. That section, and the chapters surrounding it, went through many more revisions than the rest of the novel.
Tell us about your cover (it’s so cute!) and how it came about.
Clean Reads uses a couple different designers for their book covers, and Amanda from AM Design Studios created mine. Taking into consideration the back-cover blurb of my story and an image I was drawn to from Shutterstock, Amanda came up with the end result. I was soooo giddy when I first saw it, because let’s face it, people do judge books by their covers, and this one reflects everything about Tinsel: the red dress connotes Christmas and romance, the pose of the girl speaks to its whimsical nature, promising the reader some good chuckles along the way, and there’s even a reindeer in the background, an animal crucial to the success of Tinsel’s story.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I’ve been a huge fan of Janette Rallison for a long time, have recently fallen in love with Kasie West’s books (P.S. I Love You and On the Fence are my two faves), and I discovered Kristin Rae a few years ago with her debut novel, Wish You Were Italian. All three are extremely talented writers.
What advice do you have for writers?
Oh man, you might have just opened a can of worms.
Learn the craft, learn the “rules,” then write until you know those rules so well, you know when you’re breaking them and why. It’s so easy these days to publish your work on Amazon, but just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean you should. You might not be ready, and you really want to present the world with your best work.
Writing a book is similar to becoming a doctor, actually. It takes a lot of time and study to do it well. Most successful authors (if not all authors, period) stand on a foundation of manuscripts that will never leave their computers or laptops. I certainly have mine. Write your best work, learn as you go, and then be willing to set it aside if need be and start on a new manuscript. Don’t think of that first, second, or third manuscript as lost time or effort, since you will be pouring into the new manuscript everything you learned from working on the first one(s). And never forget a writer is always learning, no matter how many books are under his/her belt. I had studied the craft for over 15 years by the time I put Tinsel through the ACFW critique loop, and I was floored by how much I still learned from the other writers critiquing my “baby.”
How can readers find out more about you and your work?