Friday, August 7, 2009
Interview with Lori Nawyn - a woman of unlimited talents
What a thrill and pleasure it is to present this interview with the amazing, talented and incredibly versatile Lori Nawyn. I did a little googling and sniffing around to find out more about Lori and I was blown away by the scads (my Grandma Bauer's favorite word) of stuff this girl is involved in. I'm talking serious talent in writing and art, and majorly involved in blogs, social networks and other stuff I don't even know the name of.
Just to give you some background about Lori and to give you an idea of what makes her tick, I've posted her bio from her blog.
I’ve always dreamed of writing and illustrating books. When I was ten, a fifth-grade essay contest gave me the confidence to proceed. From there, to having my first short story published in a Ririe, Idaho high school newsletter, to simultaneously working for two local newspapers, one regional paper, and freelancing for several periodicals during the early ‘90’s, I’ve found great satisfaction in the craft of writing. My greatest blessings, however, have come from meeting the people whose stories I’ve helped to tell.
I’ve gleaned a great appreciation for people in all walks of life as I’ve learned first-hand that every soul on this earth has something of value to impart to the rest of us. In my works of both fiction and non-fiction, I’ve tried to bring the philosophies and ideals of those I've interviewed not only onto the printed page but into the hearts of my readers. I will never forget the courage of aviator Ralph Glasgow, the passion of railroad enthusiast Delone Bradford Glover, the determination of my own grandfather, inventor H.L. Wiese, or the faith of pioneer candy maker Annorah Coleman Boden. These individuals are among just a few of the wonderful people who have touched my life and made me want to strive to reach my personal best. As my writing efforts have expanded, an unanticipated bonus has been the relationship I’ve formed with my readers. I am grateful for their support and for the cards and letters I’ve received from all over the world.
As much as I love writing, and my various art and photography endeavors, my family is paramount in my life. I am married to a wonderful man who is a firefighter and together we have four children, two granddaughters, one llama, two Huskies and one loveable mutt. Snowmobiling and hiking are two of my passions. My grandmother, Esther, was the most phenomenal woman I’ve ever known. Throughout my life she loved me and believed in my potential, helping me find the e courage to be who I am. A few years ago, when I was photographing her for the book Hearts and Hands, I told her how beautiful I thought her hands were. She studied them for a moment and then remarked that they were the result of a lifetime of “hard work and innocence.” When I reach her age, I hope I can look at my own hands and know -- in whatever I’ve written, drawn, painted or photographed, or in any of the ways I’ve touched the lives of others -- that I’ve worked hard and done all I could to be the person I was supposed to be.
Here is my interview with Lori:
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Lori: In fifth grade I had obnoxious down to a science. The class clown, I always looked for ways to get a laugh. Acting out was how I dealt with my emotions. When my teacher gave the class an essay assignment I decided to write about earning respect, second chances, and friendship. To my surprise the essay was well received by my classmates and teacher. I was amazed to find I’d stumbled on a way to cope with my feelings without being obnoxious. I knew then I wanted to write.
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Lori: Though I knew I wanted to be an author I didn’t believe in myself. My mother told me writing was not my forte and that I shouldn’t embarrass myself by attempting it. I loved to do research and there were many aspects of local history which fascinated me: the Golden Spike and rail history, CCC camps, the music of the Big Band Era, etc. Drawing on what I learned I wrote some articles that were picked up by my hometown paper. Gaining a bit of confidence I branched out and ended up freelancing for several newspapers and magazines. I started writing short stories in the late 90’s and two of them were included in an inspirational compilation, The Magic and the Miracle of Christmas, Volume I. The book was very successful, which instilled in me the desire to continue writing.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Lori: Almost every step of the way! Although I enjoyed a small measure of success with my short stories and articles I realized, in recent years, that I ached to do more—I discovered I wanted to be a novelist. It’s been a tough journey, fraught with self-doubt, but I’m blessed to have wonderful people in my life who encourage me to reach for my dreams. I’ve now finished several book length works and I currently have a novel under consideration, as well as requests for a couple of manuscripts.
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
Lori: Most days I get up before everyone else and work for two or three hours. During the day I can usually find a few cracks in my schedule as a mom and artist so I grab my laptop and steal a few minutes more. Thursday nights my husband takes over so I can have several hours to myself.
M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?
Lori: I’m never at a loss for ideas. I have numerous stories in my heart which beg to be told. I love to examine how people perceive themselves and others, where and how they glean strength and courage, how they improve their own lives, and how they learn to give to those around them.
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?
Lori: Years ago Carol Lynn Pearson told me to follow my passion and intuition. I’ve talked to numerous writers who have given up after only a handful of rejections—I used to think I should give up and throw in the towel, listen to my mother. But now I know that writing is like life—nothing good comes easy. If you want it don’t quit. Ever.
M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline
Lori: I have a basic outline in my head, but I usually don’t commit it to paper until I’m about halfway through a manuscript. I like to jump right in and get going. If I worry over the process too much then I’m not as productive as when I just write for the love of doing so.
M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Lori: When I hit a snag it’s because I don’t know my characters well enough. If I take time to write a chapter or two from a different POV, or do a couple of character sketches, I can better figure out how everyone needs to interact.
Other than that if I don’t take good care of myself, i.e., not enough sleep, not eating right, I tend to lose focus. I can sit and write for hours but I have to discipline myself to get up and take a break so that my work doesn’t drift away from where I want it to go. To refresh I lift weights, walk on the treadmill, do yoga (or dance) with my daughter, or go for a drive and take photos.
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?
Lori: It depends on the story. If I have an intense scene (emotion, action, etc.), or if I’m working on a final, I do need absolute quiet. If it’s a draft I can manage with the usual (blessed) chaos that seems to be ingrained in my life.
M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Lori: Complete character sketches help me get to the heart of things. I want to know why my characters have certain items in their purse (or wallet) and what their goals are in both the worldly and eternal scheme of things. Snippets of family stories that have touched me, photographs (old and new), music, and travel to various destinations (like old buildings and places where I feel a great sense of connection to others) play a part in my writing/inspiration.
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Lori: I’m just realizing that the people who have been opposed to me becoming a writer have made the greatest difference in my life. As hard as they have fought to tell me I can’t I’ve worked harder to prove that I can.
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
Lori: I have an online group, an online critique partner, and several people who read for me. I love it when those who critique my work don’t mince words and call it like it is, yet there are times when I know I need to follow my own feelings.
M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
Lori: I’d have to say The Magic and the Miracle of Christmas, Volume II. My story, Through Danny’s Window, is about the father in a military family who questions his convictions after the death of his son. When I receive feedback from people who say my words have touched their hearts and lives I feel I have accomplished what I set out to do.
My peach cookbook is a favorite for a different reason. A lady I’d never met contacted me after finding it on the Internet. She turned out to be my husband’s cousin and revealed that two of his grandfather’s brothers—presumed dead—actually lived and had families. I love doing genealogy and enjoyed piecing together previously unknown generations.
M.B.: Any final words you would like to share
Lori: This year I attended my first LDStorymaker’s Conference. I’ve never met such an incredible group of people. I highly recommend it.
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Lori: All my books can be ordered through Barry Reeder at Brigham Distributing:
110 South 800 West
Brigham, Utah 84302