On Persistence, Psychological Suspense & Moving from a Traditional Publisher with Laura Wolfe (Equestrian Author Spotlight Episode 7)
Episode 7: In each Equestrian Author Spotlight episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Dark Horse Mystery series author Laura Wolfe. You'll learn ...
Watch Laura Wolfe's Interview on YouTube!
Or Listen to the Audio Only Version.
About Author Laura Wolfe
Laura Wolfe writes psychological suspense for adults and young adults. Her YA mystery, Trail of Secrets, was named as a Finalist in the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards—First Novel category. Barn Shadows was shortlisted in the 2018 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Awards.
Laura holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan and is an active member of multiple writing groups, including Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.
She lives in Michigan with her husband, son, daughter, and one spoiled rescue dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking through the woods, playing games with her energetic kids, and growing vegetables in her garden.
Laura Wolfe Interview Excerpt
Carly: What makes you feel inspired or like your best self?
Laura: Taking time for myself. Also, spending time with my family. As far as writing, I feel inspired whenever someone tells me they enjoyed my book and ask when the next one is coming out. That’s the best reward!
Carly: What excites you about writing books?
Laura: I love taking an idea or a “what if” and turning it into a full-length manuscript that then becomes a book. For example, for Trail of Secrets, I thought, “What if a girl left on a trail ride and her horse came back without her? What if she disappeared and no one ever knew what happened to her?” I love mysteries, so I find it exciting to keep people on the edge of their seats and for them to try to figure out what’s coming next, but not really knowing.
Carly: Tell me about your favorite hobby/hobbies. I know you like the outdoors and gardening.
Laura: I like to stay active. Sadly, I stopped riding about two years ago due to time constraints, but I still enjoy being around horses and, of course, writing about them! I have two kids who are 10 and 12. They take up a lot of my time which is okay with me because I love hanging out with them and watching their games and practices. I enjoy running and playing tennis. My husband and I go biking and hiking together. We live close to a river, so we go kayaking and tubing in the warmer months. We all love animals and nature, so we enjoy watching all the wildlife that comes through our backyard. We have a spoiled rescue dog named Milo. He is with us most of the time!
Carly: Do you have any stories that people would find interesting or entertaining about your writing or your horse background?
Laura: When I was younger, my cousin and I used to go to a sleep-away horse camp every summer where we did nothing but ride and groom horses. It was heaven! My books are very loosely based on some of my memories from that camp, although there are also many differences. Thankfully, no girls went missing from the real camp, and I never saw any ghosts!
Carly: You recently took back the rights to your Dark Horse YA Mystery series from a traditional publisher. Would you share a little about the experience and why you decided to do that?
Laura: Trail of Secrets and Barn Shadows were originally published by a small press called Fire and Ice YA. After a few years, I realized I wanted to make some significant revisions to Trail of Secrets. My writing had improved during that four-year time period and I saw many spots in the novel that could be tightened up and made more appropriate for a middle school-aged audience.
It wasn’t really worth their time to let me go back and make those changes. The term of my contract had already expired, so they agreed to let me take back the rights so that I could make some revisions and republish the books on my own.
Carly: Did you take the books to another publisher or did you decide to independently publish? Why?
Laura: No. I wanted to try self-publishing just to see what it would be like to have complete control over the process. Most publishers won’t take books that have already been published by another publisher.
Carly: I notice the books have new covers. Did you have to do that when you took back the rights or did you just want to refresh them? Tell us about the new cover design.
Laura: I could have paid a small fee to keep the old covers, but I wanted new covers for the new editions. I hired a cover artist, Laura Boyle, who I found on Reedsy. She sent me a few samples and we went from there. I think she did a great job capturing the essence of my books. I can’t wait to reveal the Cabin 5 cover. It’s my favorite one of the three.
Carly: I know the third (and final) book in your YA equestrian mystery series is in the works. When do you expect its release? Tell us a little bit about where you are taking the series.
Laura: The third book in the series is called Cabin 5. It’s set to release in January 2020. Each one of the books in my series take place a year after the previous book, so this is Brynlei’s third summer at Foxwoode Riding Academy. Brynlei is a highly-sensitive person who has a strong sixth sense about the world around her.
This time she comes back as a counselor for the campers in cabin 5, and she has to return the beloved horse she’s been leasing (Jett) to the camp because she’s preparing to leave for college. Soon after she arrives, she discovers a Native American arrowhead in the woods. Then terrible things begin happening to the girls in her cabin, causing Brynlei to wonder whether her cabin is cursed or whether someone closer to her is to blame. She must figure out what’s happening before Foxwoode’s owners close the academy forever.
Carly: You have a free short story, Barn Dance, set in the world of the Dark Horse Mystery Series available only on Prolific Works? Tell us about Barn Dance. How long is the short story? What was it like writing a short story? How did you go about it?
Laura: Barn Dance was originally written to be part of a romance (Valentine’s Day) compilation put together by my previous publisher. I am not a romance writer, but that didn’t stop me from submitting my entry!
I was told my story wasn’t going to be included because it wasn’t “steamy and romantic” enough. I thought that was funny because … yeah …I ’m not a romance writer. So, I decided to use it as free giveaway instead.
It’s a great way to introduce people to my main character, Brynlei, and her love for horses. The story is too short to be a true mystery, but it does highlight Brynlei’s abilities as a “Highly-Sensitive Person,” and gives a glimpse into her love interest, Luke.
It takes place between books one and two but can stand on its own even if you haven’t read the first book. In fact, the first chapter of Trail of Secrets is included at the end of the short story.
Get Barn Dace on Prolific Works here:
Carly: Your website mentions that you now write primarily for adults and are looking forward to signing with a larger publisher for your adult suspense novels. Why did you decide to transition from YA to Adult? Has that been a challenging change?
Laura: I really enjoy writing both for the YA and Adult audience, but I think I have a better pulse on the adult suspense/psychological thriller market because that’s what I primarily enjoy reading.
It was not a big challenge to change because they are all in the mystery/suspense genre. If anything, it was easier to write for adults because I wasn’t limited by what language was appropriate and things like that.
My future adult books do not revolve around horses, although I can never resist having a horse gallop through a scene at some point. I signed with a literary agent about two years ago and she is working on getting my adult books in front of larger publishers. It is a slow process and is requiring me to be patient:)
Carly: What do you wish you had known when you started out?
Laura: I wish I had known how important marketing would be for my books. I thought that if I just published a book, people would buy it. It turns out that it’s a lot more complicated than that. There are so many books out there. Writers have to promote their books, no matter how uncomfortable that might make them. It seems obvious, but if people don’t know about your book, they can’t buy it.
Carly: Your four previous completed novels were all written (or started) on November 1st as part of the National Novel Writing Month challenge. Tell us a little about NaNoWriMo and how it has been part of your writing process.
Laura: NaNoWriMo is a great motivator, especially for goal-oriented people like me. Instead of giving yourself the overwhelming task of writing a complete novel, it lets you break it down into smaller and more manageable goals (1700 words a day.)
The idea is that at the end of the month you’ll have a 50,000 word first draft. It won’t be good, but at least it’s a place to start. I spend the bulk of my time revising. November isn’t always the best month for me, so I’ve started making my own NaNoWriMo during my slower times of the year.
Carly: Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Laura: Being active on social media and connecting with other authors. I love your #authorsunite hashtag and the message behind it. Writers are usually also avid readers. People read widely, meaning even someone who likes mysteries, like me, also enjoys reading other things, like non-fiction, or romantic suspense.
Read Laura's blog post about making her own NaNoWriMo here:
Laura: Also, entering contests in whatever category your book falls into. Being able to say that your book won an award gives it instant legitimacy. I’m happy to say that Trail of Secrets was nominated for Best First Novel in the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Barn Shadows was shortlisted in the 2018 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Awards. My books have received tons of exposure they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten if I hadn’t entered them into these contests.
Carly: What is the hardest part about being an author?
Laura: Staying motivated, especially in such a tough and competitive market.
Carly: What is the best part about being an author?
Laura: When complete strangers contact me and tell me they loved my books and asks when the next one is coming out. There’s nothing better!
Connect with Author Laura Wolfe
Dark Horse Series on Amazon: https://amzn.to/LauraWolfe
Don't forget to grab your free copy of Barn Dance here:
Watch the Trail of Secrets Book Trailer
What a spur jingling author interview!
A BIG thank you to Laura Wolfe for participating in my Equestrian Author Spotlight series. I learn so much from other equine authors and appreciate how unique each of our writing journeys are. I love that all the authors featured in this series are linked through our creativity, passion for writing, and love of horses. I think it is so important to support each other. I appreciate the support of a fellow author. Thanks for giving me the gift of your time, Laura! #authorsunite
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I LOVE HORSE BOOKS! If you are an author who writes about horses and would like to be spotlighted let me know. I’d be happy to include you, too. Sharing about fellow horse book authors makes my spurs jingle! Visit my contact page at https://www.carlykadecreative.com/contact.html to fill out a request.
About Podcast Host Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning equestrian author and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle! She writes fiction about horses, horse shows, Western pleasure and a handsome cowboy or two. Her books are for people just like her — crazy about reading, horses and cute cowboys!
In the Reins, the first in Carly's series of novels inspired by the equestrian lifestyle, has been an Amazon best seller for more than 10 weeks, is an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award Winner for Best Western Fiction and has earned two Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories. The In the Reins equestrian romance series is available now in Audiobook, Paperback and eBook on Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and Kobo.
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!
Books by Carly Kade