Interview with Laurie Finkelstein

Published 2018-08-21.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Living with anxiety, depression and OCD has presented many challenges and also a bit of comic relief. My experiences in dealing with mental illness prompted me to start writing short stories of those experiences and one thing led to another and I felt it important to bring to light and squash some stigmas surrounding mental illness. I believed setting my stories within a fictional rom com was an ideal way to introduce the struggles and open dialogue with all those with similar struggles in a humorous, light-hearted way. For those who do not struggle with mental illness, my book helps introduce the challenges in a way that is friendly and relatable.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I believe being an indie author is the perfect way to get my message out quickly. I took my role as an indie author seriously by hiring professionals to create a reading experience as professional as a traditionally published book. I have total control over the editing, book cover design and publishing timelines not inherent in traditional publishing.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has proven to be a wonderful publishing platform to distribute my book through many channels I would not have access to on my own.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There is no greater feeling than sitting in my comfy chair with a cappuccino by my side writing for hours on end and letting my characters direct the story. Sharing my work is especially rewarding when people who have read my book inspires dialogue about communal experiences.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. I like connecting to readers to share experiences and resources. I like to share background information and life's little surprises.
What are you working on next?
My next book is in the editors hands. It is a non-fiction adult humor gift book called AHOOT! A Higher Order of Thing - A 60 Tear Old Woman's Experience with Medical Marijuana and What Every Newbie Should Know Before Lighting Up. It is a fun one!

I also have my second romantic comedy in the thirds rounds of rewrites. It is called Dying to Play Mah Jong. It has supernatural elements and a possible murder mystery to solve.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I am not writing I am either reading or painting. I love to bake and I am learning to garden. Big learning curve. Eating out is one of my favorite activities morning, noon, and night.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I find ebooks in all the usual places. I am signed up for at least 30 newsletters. I belong to BookBub, BookBaby, Choosy Bookworm, Goodreads, as well as several virtual book clubs where writers support each other. I love Indie authors. So many deserving books never make it to traditional publishing. I don't want to miss out on those good reads.
What is your writing process?
My debut novel, Next Therapist Please was written panster style. I jumped from chapter 3 to chapter 18, and back and forth it went. Now, my second novel, Dying to Play Mah Jong is written in an organized fashion. Once the idea popped into my head, I started thinking about the characters and where they live. I wrote character profiles so I knew my characters and how they would react in various circumstances. I mapped out a general outline, plot graph, and used Google images to find the perfect face for each character to help make them real. I'm in the editing stage now and I am going through the edits systematically to catch bugs in the timeline or plot.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't know what book sparked my interest initially, but My Father's Dragon sticks out in my mind. I loved it so much I found it as an adult and bought it so I could read it again. I still love it. Some of my other favorite books were Island of the Blue Dolphins, A Wrinkle in Time, Anne of Green Gables, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I enjoy reading on my Kindle app on my iPhone. I'm never without my phone, so I am never without a book to read.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Give aways are fun and a great way to build an email list. I enjoy doing articles for magazines that tie in with the subject of my book. My favorite is doing readings and signings and connecting to my readers.
Describe your desk
I don't work at my desk. I have one to store all the papers and ignored mail piled up as I write and rewrite. I'm glad it's in a room I don't spend much time in. Now my work "station" is an oversized cushy chair big enough for me and whatever cat wants a little attention. I use my laptop for writing and it sits on my lap. Next to my chair is a table to hold my coffee and water.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I lived my first 10 years in a small town in Southern California named Covina. We lived down the street from a dairy farm. Walking to the creek to catch mini frogs was a treat. Then we moved to Los Angeles where I spent my days at LACMA, the Tar Pits, Farmer's Market. I went to the theater and ballet. All of my experiences give richness to my writing. After all, living near Hollywood put some sort of spell on me to make a name for myself.
When did you first start writing?
I picked up journaling about ten years ago as a type of therapy to process some difficult times in my life. I ended up with short stories that had a theme running through them. I am naturally creative and decided I should take those stories and interweave them in the framework of a romantic comedy, my favorite genre.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Coffee and a warm sun. I wouldn't do well in a city with four seasons. I need my heat. But no humidity. I have my hair nicely trained for Southern California weather.
How do you approach cover design?
Easy Peasy. I contact my book cover designer. I like to give a synopsis and basic details and let the artist come up with concepts rather than giving my vision. Then collaboration begins. It's a fun process, and there is nothing as tingly as seeing your book cover printed for the first time.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My Father's Dragon, Island of the Blue Dolphins, To Kill a Mockingbird, Anne of Green Gables, Illustrated Man. Do I have to stop at five? These are the books I gravitated to when I was young and inspired my love for reading.
What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly romantic comedies, but an occasional drama or thriller. I've tried paranormal, YA, sci fi, and vampires, but I haven't found one that captures my imagination. I'd rather be laughing.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

Next Therapist Please
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 59,160. Language: English. Published: February 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
The award winning "Next Therapist Please" is a great summer read that will delight romantic comedy fans and insightful contemporary fiction novels aficionados alike. The freshness and novelty of this book will keep you turning the pages and follow Janie Weiss on her incredible journey to overcoming mental illness and finding love again.