Interview with Mary L. Laudien

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing Middle Grade novels is a blast for me! I laugh aloud as I create "Ethan's world" and problem solve the issues and predicaments that he encounters in his teenage life with French bulldog puppies, an ambitious single mom, an eccentric Grandma Sis (who thinks she looks like CHER), friends who have their friendships tested and so much more. What could be more fun than writing novels that can entertain such a wide spectrum of readers: tweens, early teenagers, parents, grandparents, educators, and pet people...
What do your fans mean to you?
I am working hard towards reaching a fan base through an Author's Platform. When I visit schools, the 10-13 year old readers relate to the stories and are inspired to share their own experiences through writing their own blog posts (just like Ethan does in the series - FBF- Frenchie's Best Friend). If I can get a large enough following of fans , I would like to write my fourth Frenchie novel of the series with a following of fans (Grades 5,6 and 7) through my blog (one chapter at a time). That way, they could critique each chapter and provide input. It would be an interactive process with the novel, and they would learn more about the writing process.
What are you working on next?
I am just having Frenchie Diva- Follow the Blog published. I am awaiting the third proof and hopefully; the last! This is the third novel in the series. I have a plan percolating for the fourth one in the Frenchie series, but I have not yet begun, other than writing down ideas as they emerge. As I mentioned, I am hoping to hook up with a fan base and release one chapter at a time on my blog: http://www.twocandobooks.wordpress.com
Who are your favorite authors?
There are so many authors that this list is going to be totally incomplete. I'm really enjoying Young Adult authors such as Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, Marcus Zusak and A.S. King (to name a few...)
-my favorite MG dead author: Roald Dahl (humor and imagination)
-my favorite MG living author/s: Judy Blume (tackles issues in a humorous way and doesn't let us get too serious)
J.K. Rowling (imaginative, strong characterization and superb writing)
Barbara Park (hilarious)

-Adult living author: Jodi Picoult (provocative examination of social issues that make you think from all perspectives)
-Adult dead authors: Maeve Binchy (humor and strong character voices)
What is your writing process?
I outline the plot and research before I start writing my stories. This gives me a plan. My challenge is to create a plot that will be riveting enough that MG readers will engage with the story and stay with it. Even though I may not stick to the outline chapter by chapter (it usually doesn't), it gets me identifying what the tensions, conflicts, subplots and climax will be before I begin the drafting. It also helps me to start problem solving and creating humorous twists in the book.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember the first series that I became hooked on (a zillion years ago- ha!). It was the Nancy Drew series and The Hardy Boys. I couldn't put them down. I wanted to have their exciting lives.
How do you approach cover design?
This is something that I approach with a book cover designer. I come up with a couple of concepts (picture, fonts, colors) and then I share them with the designer. This is an interesting question, as I made a controversial decision with Bk. #3 to change the design concept from the first 2 books in the series. I wanted to make the cover more appealing to the tweens and young teens. As the series is based upon a blog concept (FBF- Frenchie's Best Friend), I decided to create a cover that is an iPad with a wordpress blog on it. The fonts and picture concept are similar to the first 2 books, but I think the format is more appropriate for the age of my readers. I love the creation and watching the book cover take form. It's satisfying to create a cover that makes readers want to pick it up. You'll have to let me know if you like the new concept.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use an iPad to read my e-readers using Kindle.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm still learning the best ways to market my books. I can tell you what I've done so far, but I know that there is much more to be done: email posters, twitter, blog, website, Amazon Author Page, Smashwords Author Page, school visits, library visits, book fairs, markets, fundraising for the SPCA (Paws for a Cause), newspaper ads, and publicity. It looks like a lot, but it is something that one has to consistently work at and perfect.
Why do you write a blog?
-modeling blog writing for Middle Grade Readers. The Frenchie Series have blogs written nightly by Ethan (the 13 year old main character) to all of his Frenchie followers-Frenchie’s Best Friend
-using life experiences and interests and writing entertaining, powerful blogs for others to critique
-helping middle grade readers, educators, parents, librarians and pet lovers to find me
-seeking readers who can enjoy the humor in contemporary life and adore their pets
-helping other writers (students included) in their journey to publication
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I met a parent ,of one of my students, who had just written and self-published her own adult fictional novel. When we met to discuss the process, it seemed like the logical way to publish in today's world of technology. I had some past experience in publishing with my ex-husband. We were originally associated with the Whole Language Consultants. He then moved his writing career forward with an agent and published traditionally. started my writing career after retiring, and felt this suited me better. It meant that, although I appreciate any feedback and critique I can get, I didn't have to wade through all the time spent querying for an agent and publisher.
Why do you write MG novels?
-to share my love of Kidlit and promote strong reading and writing skills in schools (my passion)
-to have fun writing humorous, entertaining Middle Grade books for “tweens” (that even reluctant readers will want to pick up and read)
-to share my novels with kids in schools and libraries as a way to inspire experimentation with powerful blog writing
-to use my knowledge of “tweens” and create contemporary novels that acknowledge this age group (ages 9-13) as fun, interesting, dynamic and developing. It gives kids, parents and grandparents a chance to laugh at themselves and not take family change and themselves quite so seriously (single families, extended families, career moms, latchkey kids, new pets, responsibilities, technology issues, etc.).
What are your hobbies?
-creating “shabby chic” furniture pieces
-reading voraciously
-decorating and fashion
-volunteer work: International Baccalaureate Recognition Ambassador
-Zumba dancing and fitness
-hiking
-sailing
-speaking French
--dog sitting my sons’ French Bulldogs – Bert and Cecile
-traveling
-entertaining friends and family
Where did you get your idea for writing the first book of your series?
My son ET and his wife Kelsey were working in the doggie business at the time. ET was grooming dogs, while Kelsey managed a Doggie Day Care. They love their French Bulldog, Bert (named after ET's Grandpa) and always have stories to share about him and their work. I also dog sat Cecile (named after ET's Grandma) for five days that summer (my son Adrien’s dog) and fell under her spell with her adorable little ways. I initially tried to talk my son ET into writing a Dog Groomer Blog and when he didn’t do it, the story just started to emerge and I had to write- Frenchie's Best Friend- Follow the Blog.
Published 2013-09-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.