I'm ending my week on another awesome author interview!
Laura Segal Stegman is a Los Angeles-based arts publicist and author whose middle grade debut novel, Summer of L.U.C.K., was released in September 2020 by INtense Publications and will be followed by a sequel in 2021. Having grown up in Southern California with parents who valued reading, she remains spellbound by kidlit. Some of her favorite middle grade novels, then and now, are The Diamond in the Window, Ellen Tebbits, All of A Kind Family, Wonder, A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Miraculous. Laura's non-fiction credits include collaboration on the travel book Only in New York, and her feature stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Westways Magazine and Christian Science Monitor, among others.
A long-time publicity consultant, she owns Laura Segal Stegman Public Relations, LLC, which has represented a wide-ranging client list of businesses, arts organizations and non-profit events over the years. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Irvine with a B.A. in Drama. Laura and her husband live in Los Angeles and part-time in New York City. She loves reading, L.A. Dodgers baseball, classical music and theater.
Web site: LauraStegman.com
Book Trailer on YouTube: HERE
Summer of L.U.C.K. is about three kids finding their way to self-acceptance
with the help of a ghost who haunts a magical carnival.
Stuttering Darby is never perfect enough for her mother. Justin's been silent since his dad died. Naz is struggling to learn English. But after they meet at summer camp, mysterious calliope music from an abandoned warehouse grants them power to communicate without words. When they sneak inside, the dark, empty space bursts into a magical carnival. They're greeted by the ghost of Leroy Usher, who asks for their help convincing his family to restore the carnival to its former glory. In return, he promises to teach the kids how to find their voices.
As Darby, Justin, and Naz are swept off on a series of midnight adventures via Mr. Usher's carnival rides, they discover they're capable of more than they ever imagined. With each challenge, their confidence in communicating – and in themselves – grows. Meanwhile, they scheme to persuade the Usher family to revive the carnival. But when Darby’s bunkmates trick her into starring in the camp talent show, her budding confidence falters. Can she risk being less than perfect by performing in the show and speaking up to Mr. Usher's resistant son? If not, she'll put the carnival in danger and sabotage her most important quest: to believe in herself, stutter and all.
Summer of L.U.C.K. is available now in hardcover, paperback and e-book. Order through Children’s Book World hardcover and paperback for an autographed copy and Official bookmark! Also available at Amazon (hardcover, paperback, Kindle e-book), Barnes & Noble (hardcover, paperback), Indiebound (hardcover, paperback), Bookshop (hardcover, paperback) and wherever else books are sold.
Did you always dream of being a writer/illustrator?
No. In fact, I grew up dreaming of an acting career, which is what I studied in school. Writing a novel wasn’t anywhere in the picture. But it’s funny how life turns out. After I graduated from college with a degree in Drama, life sent me in a completely different direction, and I went into public relations. Publicity work sharpened my storytelling skills, which led to my interest in writing, and I began landing free-lance non-fiction writing assignments for newspapers, magazines and blogs. Then, one day, inspired by the childhood kidlit I still loved, I began writing a novel for middle graders, which eventually became Summer of L.U.C.K. That’s when I discovered that writing was my true passion.
When did you start pursuing publication of your work?
Way too soon! I knew nothing about the world of publishing fiction, and I thought my very first draft was perfect, ha ha. I soon discovered otherwise.
How long did it take from that first thought to release day?
Years and years. Probably something like almost twenty from first thought to publication day. I learned writing essentially by doing. And re-doing. I worked with a development editor who helped me bring the story to life. Then I started to get input from other writers, and writing mentors, and from agents kind enough to comment along with their rejections. I learned how to connect with critique partners. And I even linked up with a classroom of kids in a literacy program who Beta read and gave me helpful feedback. I can’t even remember how many times I re-wrote and revised Summer of L.U.C.K. over time. Sometimes other writers would suggest I let it go and move on to something else. But Summer of L.U.C.K. was the story I wanted to tell. With every rejection, I worked harder on improving the narrative and the writing.
What's been the hardest part of publishing a book so far?
Facing rejection after rejection while maintaining belief in my story and in myself. But, it takes only one, “yes,” and I finally got that! It's hard to put into words just how much it means to me to have this book published.
And the easiest, or most enjoyable?
I think I’ll never forget the joy I felt when my box of books arrived and I held Summer of L.U.C.K. in my hands for the first time. Although I filmed it for an Instagram video, my emotion was genuine.
I also got a great deal of pleasure out of visiting two classrooms this month (February 2021) for World Read Aloud Day. What a gift (to me) it was to talk directly with kids about my writer’s journey and Summer of L.U.C.K.’s story!
What's next for you?
I was lucky enough to sign a publishing deal with INtense Publications, a small press, which offered me a three-book deal, including two sequels to Summer of L.U.C.K. Having become a better writer from all the work I did on Summer of L.U.C.K., it took me just over a year from start to finish of book 2. I’m just beginning book 3. We’ll see how that goes – I’m already kind of stuck! But I know from experience that I just have to keep at it.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to writers just started their pursuit of publication?
Connect with others who write in your genre and establish critique partners, writing group relationships, and fellow travelers in the writing community. “Follow” your favorite published writers on Twitter and Instagram, where you can comment on their posts and watch how they promote their books. Feed yourself affirmations that your literary dreams can come true. Don’t give up on a story you believe in.
Last book you just read?
The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis, a novel set in New York City’s Barbizon building.
What book are you reading now?
I just started Save the Cat Writes a Novel, which is very popular among the writers in my “circle.” I’m also reading a wonderful middle grade story called The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens.
Best book you've ever read?
Oh wow, I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one. Over the last ten years, I loved loved loved Jane Eyre, the first and last Harry Potter (and all of them, really), and two non-fiction books about President Franklin D. Roosevelt: No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin and A First Class Temperament by Geoffrey Ward. No matter what your favorite genre, you won’t go wrong with any of those books.
There are so many contemporary authors that I love, but I’ll go with a classic: Charles Dickens.
Best moment of your writing life?
The morning I opened the email in which my publisher, INtense Publications, told me they loved Summer of L.U.C.K., that they wanted to publish it, and would I write two sequels. It was a dream come true.
Name of your newest WIP?
Right now, book three in the Summer of L.U.C.K. series doesn’t have a name, as I’ve only written three or four paragraphs. Book two is called Ready or Not.
If not an author, what would be your dream job?
Since I love being around books, a librarian or a worker in an independent bookstore.
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