Running this profile of Laura Holian today is my Christmas present to myself. She says so many nice things about me in this chat, it would seem self serving to run it any other time. Besides, some of you need stuff to do on Christmas. You can read this. (I’ll be reading it again!)
A great story deserves a great follow up profile.
This week we’re putting a spotlight on all our contest winners.
Born and raised in South Texas, Laura Holian had the unique privilege of growing up in an area rich with the convergence of two cultures. Surrounded by a family of teachers, Laura developed a love of learning and a passion for reading. But the greatest lesson she ever learned came from her mother who taught her the value of an education, “It’s something that no one can ever take from you.”
As a child, one of her fondest memories was when her aunt, who was a librarian, would come home with a tote full of books for her. As a teenager, Laura would raid her sister’s closet for more books to read. And in high school, she was fortunate enough to have an eccentric teacher, Sir Novo, who introduced the class to the joys and challenges of creative writing. His enthusiasm for learning, writing and life was contagious. His teachings encouraged her to stretch beyond the hum drum book reports and delve into the heart of a story. Encouraged to excel in school, Laura graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University. After graduation, she worked as a cost analyst for over ten years before resigning her position to stay home and raise her children.
Moving from Texas to Colorado and most recently Florida, Laura uses social media to connect with her friends sharing amusing posts of life with her family. Their positive feedback inspired her to continue and even use writing as a catharsis for her personal life. She hopes that through her writing journey, her children will be encouraged to venture out, try new things and keep reaching for those stars.
Laura is currently working on a memoir while pursuing her goal of becoming a published author.
“Come follow my writing journey on Facebook!” Laura Holian – Author
Here’s my chat with Laura Holian, 3rd place winner in our November Word Weaver Writing Contest for her story Sick Day
DAN: Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece or something you had written before?
Laura Holian: This story was written for the contest. I saw the pieces of my story come together in my head. I had never experienced that for a short story before.
Writing 3,000 words was unchartered territory for me. Would I be too wordy? Was my story too short?
About a week earlier, I had read the email regarding the writing contest, so I had the relationship theme running in the background of my thoughts. Life continued and then a few days later I could see the conflict themes I learned about at one of the writer presentations I had attended.
“I knew how I wanted the story to begin and end, then I realized I inadvertently had what I needed to write the story.”
– Laura Holian
The timing, the theme, the story idea, it all worked out in the most amazing way.
Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece /completed story?
Once I came up with the idea, my writing journey was to sprint upstairs to my office and start writing as soon as I dropped my kids off to school. I wrote for a few hours taking only essential breaks for about two days. I wanted to get it written before I forgot anything. In the following days, I would alternate between editing it and leaving it alone. Then
“I mentally debated on whether to submit it or not.
It would be my first time writing a short story and my first time submitting to a writing competition.”
– Laura Holian
The idea was both exciting and nerve wracking. In the end, I took a chance and submitted it. I am so glad I did.
Where do you do your writing?
I do most of my writing in my office upstairs. It has a window which lets in great light and is reasonably quiet. I’d like to be able to write anywhere. I did try to write once in the waiting area of my kid’s dance studio. Sitting on a hard bench, elbow to elbow with other parents, surrounded by fussy, little, bored siblings mixed with the background music of dancers was quite a challenge, but after a while I got wrapped up in my story and I wrote despite the chaos around me. Not sure I am ready to do that on a daily basis, but it’s nice to challenge oneself every now and again.
Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?
My current writing goal is to be a traditionally published author. My main objective for writing is to elicit an emotion from readers. I’d like to give them a story they will remember. With my short story, Sick Day, I felt people could relate to it because it depicts the struggles busy spouses face. I also thought it was relatable to parents because parents do not get Sick Days. Parents are on call 24/7 and sometimes it’s overwhelming.
What helps you the most when it comes to writing?
Google and life. In regards to the internet, it’s amazing how much the world wants to share its knowledge. Thank you. Our lives are remarkable and ideas are all around us. We just need to keep something handy to write our ideas on when they decide to spontaneously occur.
What does writing success look like?
If you read a story and you go through your day and you continue to think about it, unbidden, that is successful writing.
“Writing that stays with you.
Like a glow after a fist kiss.”
– Laura Holian
Might sound cheesy, but it’s true.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I am working on a memoir. Originally, I was trying to make sense of the chaos of my past, but the writing process has taught me that at the time it wasn’t chaos, it was life.
There are a lot of writing contest out there. What drew you to this one?
I attended a presentation by Dan Alatorre at the Florida Writers Conference. I could relate to his process and his recommendations. It also helped that he presented with a great sense of humor. I signed up to receive his emails and learned about the contest. The theme of the writing competition was a large factor. He made it easy because it wasn’t limited to anything too specific, in fact, it was the opposite, he gave great examples of how far we could stretch the theme. In the end, I chose human relationships. It worked well for my story.
Have you ever entered a writing contest before?
This was my first writing contest. Submitting a story was quite intimidating. I am a novice writer and opening myself up to let someone read my work was akin to exposing my soul. But I think that is a good thing because it means I put real emotion into it and I hope readers can feel that.
Will we see you again in the next Word Weaver Writing Contest?
Did you know the piece you submitted was special?
Yes and no. I had just attended several workshops at a writer’s conference and I could now identify a lot of the essential elements in this particular story. It felt special to me, but I did not think it was special compared to what I imagined my competition would be. It’s like when you sing in the shower and you think you sound great, but you might hesitate to sing in front of others.
What’s next for you?
Continue writing in a more disciplined manner. I am learning a great deal and I want to continue to gather information and improve.
Turns out, that’s not all that’s next for Laura. She’s been invited to participate in our 2018 anthology!
Gang, join me in congratulating Laura for a terrific contribution to our contest!
Wanna get your story critiqued by a bestselling author and have a shot at winning a writing contest? Check out the NEXT Word Weaver Writing Contest that starts in March 2018! 3000 word approximately per submission, NO limit on the number of times you can enter, and the winner will be published in an anthology we release in 2018.
Click HERE for full details and to enter NOW!
THEME: mystery/murder/ and or suspense – and you can get started right now. Early bird fee of $15 locks in your spot – click the CONTACT ME button to register early and save $$$ plus ALL entries will be critiqued BY ME. Early Bird discount ends soon!