About the Author:
In elementary school, Laura Lee Nutt checked out every fairy tale in the library so often that if she picked something else, it was cause for curiosity. Even into adulthood, she nurtured her imagination with stories of fairies, true love, monsters, especially werewolves, and the fantastic, but she wondered what happened after “happily ever after.”
This curiosity and catching an illness one chill winter day brought her before a blank computer screen, desperately desiring to write something new. Heinrich, Blanchette, and Karl swiftly spun the tale you just read. Laura feverishly typed, barely fast enough to keep up.
Once Red and the Wolf was born, other stories coalesced in Laura’s mind, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, all asking the same questions: What might happen if the end of these tales wasn’t really the end? What were these characters’ lives really like after the harrowing events of the fairy tale? What if achieving true love and happiness required something extra? Thus came the idea for this series, Embracing Ever After, where achieving true love requires something special and happily ever after isn’t really the end.
Guest Post and GIVEAWAY:
From Childish Babble to Polished Publication, How a Writer Grows
By Laura Lee Nutt
(Giveaway details to follow.)
In my opinion, it’s always interesting to go back to an author’s early works and see how they changed over the years. Just take a look at your favorite authors and compare their first published book with their recent releases. The contrasts can be startling.
However, authors often reluctantly share their early works out of embarrassment, simple personal dread of those fledgling efforts, or hope that they can one day polish them into something salable. Yet those pieces are usually illuminating and can hold many a lesson for the aspiring writer.
So today, I thought I’d give you a glimpse into the journey I have taken as a writer and into some of my earlier, more embarrassing work. For you readers, I hope you find it fun and funny. You are allowed to laugh. Some of my early works detailed here are worth a chuckle or ten. For you writers trying to break into the publishing world, take this as encouragement that with time, patience, and persistence, it can happen.
The Writer’s Journey:
I started writing early in elementary school. My friend Molly and I used to make books about horses with illustrations. She drew far better than me, I’m afraid. Recently, I found some of those old stories in a box at my parents’ house. I could not tell you much of what they were about because my handwriting was so horrid. I truly feel for my teachers back then. It’s amazing they could grade my work at all.
Once I became legible, I wrote extensively. In 4th grade, I have a distinct memory of writing a story about dinosaurs for science class. My teacher asked, “Laura, are you writing a dictionary?” I believe I took the longest of my class to compose the piece. It was in black marker with pictures of dinosaurs, erupting volcanoes, and trees. I have not yet found this story, but I can assure you it was deplorably absent of character depth, very unlike Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park which I was reading at the time.
Back then, most of my stories hinged around action or world oddities. And might I add that I’m fairly certain they were riddled with cliches. In childhood, the cliches help us learn the basics, much as playing house lets us practice our adult roles.
By middle school, I’d discovered Star Trek and, to my mother’s woe, refused to read anything but it, Star Wars, and Michael Crichton. Star Trek the Original Series heavily influenced my stories. Practically all my tales involved space adventure and heroes that were remarkably like Spock. For a contest, one of my more divergent tales involved a bunch of kids happening upon a cave, somehow getting kidnapped by aliens, taken aboard a spaceship that looked like a Bumble Ball, and fighting their way free, spilling a lot of purple alien blood. Why I fixated on the purple blood at the time, I will never know. The story, naturally, came nowhere near winning and not just because I could not spell to save my life. It was a combination of Power Rangers, Star Trek, and my brother’s toy collection, but very little of me.
I did not really start infusing myself into my stories--my perspectives and love of emotional depth--until 8th grade. For English that year, each class member wrote a story for a class anthology. I loved any assignment that let me write stories. I turned my story in last because I kept writing. In the end, I turned it in unfinished, and that was when I began to realize that I had a problem: I never finished a story.
This was when I first sat down and really considered what I wrote. I recall hunching over my desk in my bedroom, trying to restart the story I’d turned in for the class anthology. Why couldn’t I finish it? Why did it go on until I gave up writing or was forced to turn it in? It would take years, however, before I realized why I had this problem.
As a special note, this story was the first I wrote with romance in mind. There was not much romance in the story, but somewhere along the way, when the characters’ got older, I envisioned a romance, sweet and chaste with held hands and a Disney-style kiss. Deeper emotions, true love, and the sacrifice for it were beginning to set roots in my storyteller’s imagination.
The summer between middle school and high school, I had my first real romance. We met at camp, went out for a month, and then he cut it off. I’m still not sure why. This experience unlocked something in me, though I did not realize it until I sat down to write this post. It gave me license to deeply feel love and hurt and all those emotions that I’d shunned as a kid, and that strengthened my writing.
My very first assignment of high school involved a paper describing an incident that was impactful, or something like that. I don’t recall the precise wording of the original assignment. I wrote about the time that my Australian Shepherd bit me in 6th grade. From a plastic surgeon who had to repair my nose in the ER, I received 33 stitches. When I wrote the paper, I went into detail about all this, but I also included the emotions more than ever before. The fear, the pain, the twelve-year-old terror that I might die and ought to tell my brother that I loved him. My teacher picked my paper out that first day and read it to the class. Not only was this somewhat humiliating, it was also the first true, outside confirmation, aside from my family, that my writing was worth something. It was, in essence, a needed boost of confidence.
However, I did not write much for a couple years after that. I read a lot, and I got out my need to create stories through role playing games with friends. Instead of pursuing writing as a career, I tried to be practical and considered science and medicine. There wasn’t time to write in high school. But English remained my favorite class. I loved Shakespeare, especially when we got to act it out, and I still savored assignments that involved creative writing.
In my senior year, sick of everything school related, I took a creative writing class as an easy elective. By then, I’d become enraptured with fantasy. My space adventure days were long gone. In creative writing, I rekindled a spark I’d buried in my rush to make good grades and pursue a practical career. I did high school in three years, and with all the extra classes and work, I was exhausted and halfway to a robot. But that creative writing class restarted my imagination. I was fascinated with images and the beauty of language. For one of my first assignments. I penned “The Chandelier,” a poem about a beautiful chandelier that represented all the gaudy but lovely glory of fantasy and dreams. Also in this class, we had to actually submit a work for publication. I got my first rejection letter but did not take it too hard because I still was not really committed to writing as a career.
My second year of college, I began to write in earnest. Through role playing, I’d fallen in love with characters that my friends, my fiancé among them, and I created. The tale I spun from those characters included my first real love story but was still primarily a fantasy adventure. I had a whole trilogy planned out and was halfway through the first book when I stopped. I realized I was not writing my stories. I was dictating other people’s stories. Much as I loved the characters, I could not continue.
My last year of college, I took another creative writing class. By this point, I wanted to write. Any other career would be something to do until I became an author. This class was where I learned to finish a story. Yes, until this point, until almost the age of twenty, I had never truly finished a story. Oh, I’d tagged on a The End because I had to, but that was all. Because my professor insisted on a complete piece, or so I perceived, and because she gave us word and page limits, I was forced to finish a story. One of our first assignments was flash fiction. My tale, from start to finish, could be no more than 1,000 words. To me, this seemed an impossibility. Yet, somehow I managed. The piece is called A Flash of Color and is about a post-apocalyptic world covered in ash with practically no light where the humans have devolved through fear. They go to extremes to shut out and destroy anything different from them. I began the story with the end in mind, and to my shock actually composed a true ending. After that, it became much easier. I threw myself into writing, studying other authors, reading outside of what I normally read, which is how I discovered romance, and focusing on technique.
Over the following years, I wrote several books, each better than I’d written before and some that I still wince at when I reread. I combed through writing books and participated in seminars. I racked up a long list of rejections, over 100 so far. When I wrote Red and the Wolf, which is now my debut novel, it was unusual for me. I generally did not write fairy tale romances, and I’d certainly never written a novel shorter than 100,000 words. Yet it immediately caught the interest of Piper Denna, my editor at Lyrical Press. And so I learned my next lesson in writing: It rarely goes the way you expect or hope. In fact, the greatest breakthroughs can come from the most unexpected of places and opportunities.
This month, Red and the Wolf was released. It is the culmination of my writing so far. It possesses far stronger structure than any of my earlier works. It has romance to spades, which was sadly lacking in my writing for a very long time. And it has a satisfying ending, a feat I could not achieve until almost twenty. It is about overcoming fear, taking ahold of true love, heroism in the face of hard choices, and, of course, a werewolf and a girl who once, as a child, walked down a woodland path to her grandmother’s house and changed her life forever.
For more on Red and the Wolf, you can check it out on one of your favorite venders: Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, iTunes, or Lyrical Store.
For a sample chapter, you can check it out on my website. (I also have some of my earlier works there, Glassed Eyed Inspiration, War Drums Beat, and Entomophobia: An Insect Incident, if you would like to compare.)
GIVEAWAY DETAILS: I’d like to invite you to participate in the giveaway I’m hosting this month to celebrate the release of Red and the Wolf. On Monday, April 1, I’ll announce the winners on my website—no tricks for April Fools Day, I promise. You will have from 12:00 AM on Monday, March 11, central time, to 11:59 PM on Sunday, March 31, central time, to gain points. Each point counts as an additional time you will be entered in the drawing for a number of prizes such as a beautiful, illustrated edition of Andersen and Grimms’ fairy tales and Little Red Riding Hood’s basket complete with an assortment of goodies to brighten anyone’s day, even a grandmother’s whose house has just been burgled by a werewolf. For more details and how to earn points, visit .
To earn your first point, comment on today’s post. How do you like your romance heroes: alpha, sophisticated, charming, stoic, funny, mischievous, or some other alluring combination? I like mine strong and noble with a bit of a dark side.