I am delighted to introduce you to Laura Heffernan, fellow Kensington Books author. Laura is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.
Take it away, Laura!
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been writing. Short stories here and there, a play in fifth or sixth grade I sincerely wish I still had a copy of (tiled ‘A Shot in the Dark’, it opened with a gunshot and a scream), and later, law review articles. As an adult, I poured my creativity into Yelp reviews while ghost-writing blogs about news. When my best friend was cast on a reality show, I started a blog to recap the episodes. While the blogs were largely informative, I also used them explore my voice by providing commentary on what happened. I shared my blog with friends, who raved about the writing style, but I still didn’t feel like I was capable of writing a full novel. I’d tried several times and stalled out.
Then a friend told me about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and something clicked. Write roughly seventeen hundred words a day for a month? I could do that. And if I couldn’t, well, that was okay, because I’d only lost a month rather than years. Unfortunately, I had a ridiculously busy November planned–including three trips out of town in four weeks. (At that point, I hadn’t yet discovered that airplanes are the best place to write.) So I put it off. That same month, I got engaged, and all writing thoughts took a back seat to planning my wedding and upcoming move to another state.
While on my honeymoon, my husband and I booked a day at a spa. Amid all the relaxation, my mind started to wander. And I realized that if I wanted to write a book, if I wanted to get fifty thousand words on the page in a month, I didn’t have to wait until November. I could just do it. Ideas started spiraling, and the day after we got home, I started writing.
I wanted to write something fun, the type of book I’d want to read. My tastes in books has always run toward beach reads: Confessions of a Shopaholic, Something Borrowed, Jemima J., to name a few classics. The previous summer, my best friend has appeared as a contestant on ABC’s The Glass House, and my friends loved a blog I’d maintained about the show during the experience. As a huge reality TV fan, I thought it would be fun to incorporate some elements of her experience into a book about a show I created.
It took me three weeks to get to fifty thousand words. It took another couple of weeks to finish the story, but I was very proud of that first draft–just the fact that I’d done it. I edited the book – or so I thought – and then I started querying.
The book wasn’t ready. When I started to send it out, I got no requests. Not even a nibble. The rejections started to trickle in. An agent tweeted that she hated the type of opening I’d chosen…eleven seconds before her rejection landed in my inbox. Some research told me that I’d managed to choose one of the top 5 most clichéd openings. Yay me!
But I picked myself up, and I rewrote the opening of the story. I started to connect with other writers on Twitter. I discovered writing contests. I didn’t get in, but I met and swapped work with other writers. Slowly but surely, my story improved. I started to get agent requests. I got a couple of revise and resubmit requests that pushed my story closer to where it needed to be. And after several months, I got an offer from an agent who loved the story as much as I did.
It took time, and a couple more intense revisions, but now that first manuscript is being published. A sequel is in the hands of my publisher, and I’m finishing writing the third. I still can’t believe that all three of them will be published.
Even better, I get to tell myself that watching reality TV is important “research” for my next book.
AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR
SEEKING THE SMART ONE
Twenty-four-year-old Jen Reid had her life in good shape: an okay job, a tiny-cute Seattle apartment, and a great boyfriend almost ready to get serious. In a flash, it all came apart. Single, unemployed, and holding an eviction notice, who has time to remember trying out for a reality show? Then the call comes, and Jen sees her chance to start over—by spending her summer on national TV.
Luckily The Fishbowl is all about puzzles and games, the kind of thing Jen would love even if she wasn’t desperate. The cast checks all the boxes: cheerful, quirky Birdie speaks in hashtags; vicious Ariana knows just how to pout for the cameras; and corn-fed “J-dawg” plays the cartoon villain of the house. Then there’s Justin, the green-eyed law student who always seems a breath away from kissing her. Is their attraction real, or a trick to get him closer to the $250,000 grand prize? Romance or showmance, suddenly Jen has a lot more to lose than a summer . . .
You can find Laura at: