We are thrilled to introduce Laurie Batzel, our newest romance author & her historical romance, With My Soul, which will release in 2019.
- Tell us a bit about yourself. Include a couple of facts that not a lot of people know about you.
Well, I’m only just now telling people that I’m writing books, so that’s something! I was a ballet dancer for twenty years of my life and taught dance for a little while before my children were born, so performing arts will always hold a special and important place in my heart. I love to cook, so food and cooking is something that somehow always works its way into my writing, perhaps as a way to fulfill my childhood dream of being a cakemaker and decorator that I abandoned when I realized how early most bakers have to start work in the morning. When I was a teenager, I went through the training and certification process with my cock-a-poo puppy for him to be a therapy dog and we volunteered at local nursing homes with our local Therapy Dog International chapter.
- Tell us a bit about the book that will be published by Anaiah Press.
It’s a historical romance set in rural North Carolina in the 1940s. The heroine is a young woman who battles the ignorance of small-minds in her small town and the anger that resides in her heart after her husband abandons her and their infant daughter. She finds friendship, faith, love and hope in unexpected places, and using courage and persistence in the face of obstacles, she changes a lot of hearts, including her own.
- When and why did you start writing?
Stories, reading them, writing them, telling them, have always been a large part of who I am. I was that kid who took a book into the bathtub and can still remember asking my mom to transcribe my story about a troll named Helga before I was old enough to write it for myself! The fact that I did a research paper for my senior project as a dance major and enjoyed the paperwork more than the actual patient care when I worked in health care should have told me that this was my calling, but I never had the courage or confidence to pursue writing seriously until the loss of my best friend to breast cancer four years ago. I realized then how life is far too short and precious to let any dream go unchased.
- Is this your first book? How many have you written?
This is the second book out of three that I’ve completed. The first was a romance novel that I wrote for a fun, creative outlet and realized after finishing that I actually wanted to try to make a career out of this. WITH MY SOUL is the second and the first book of mine to be published, but I’ve rewritten it so many times, it bears very little resemblance to the original version. I’ve written a YA novel that is completely different from WITH MY SOUL that has recently been offered representation by a literary agent and will be going out for submission for publication as soon as it’s polished to perfection. I have notebooks all over the house full of bits and pieces of different stories that I’m working on at the same time.
- Tell us a bit about your journey to publication.
After I finished the first draft, I sent it to some beta readers and critique groups within the writing community and received a lot of feedback, some very harsh, some very helpful, but all of whom said that at 122,000 words it was far too long. So, I rewrote and edited until I didn’t recognize the story anymore, but at least it was under 100,000 words. I didn’t feel confident enough in myself at that point to go through the extremely intimidating process of querying agents, but I put it out on #faithpitch to see if the concept was worth continuing to work on. I got some requests from a few agents and small presses for the full manuscript but had actually put it aside to devote my attention to my third book when I got the email from Anaiah offering a publication contract. I was extremely surprised and thrilled that this story, one that is very special and dear to my heart, would be out in the world for people to read.
- What are some of your favorite books / authors?
I love books where I want to live in the setting and be best friends with the characters. I read across all different genres, but some of my recent favorites are The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the Outlander series, the Harry Potter series, The Selection Series, and The Hate U Give. C.S. Lewis, L.M. Montgomery, Sabrina Jeffries, Emily Giffin, and Sophie Kinsella are all authors that could write telephone directories I would still pre-order off Amazon. I was also a history major in college, so I’m a sucker for a really well-written biography or non-fiction work about a little known historical period or event.
- What are some of your favorite movies / TV shows?
I love PBS for their documentaries and British series, especially Downton Abbey, Victoria, and the Great British Baking Show. With four kids under eight, it’s rare that I have time to watch movies that aren’t animated, but some of my favorites are classic musicals like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, An American in Paris, and My Fair Lady. I never say no to a really good rom-com like You’ve Got Mail, Love Actually, La La Land, and Sense and Sensibility.
- Where do you find inspiration for your books?
I write about people, places and topics I’m passionate about. WITH MY SOUL was inspired by two remarkable women I was honored to have in my life here on earth, and who continue to send me grace from heaven: my grandmother, who had the courage and resilience to raise my mom on her own, all while working at an orphanage as a social worker, was the inspiration for my main character, Willa Jane, and my best friend, CJ, who shines her light into the darkest times of life even after gaining her angel wings, was the heart and soul behind Joy, the friend who changes the course of Willa Jane’s life.
- Describe your perfect day of relaxation.
First, I have to remember what relaxation is…with four kids, it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced the sensation. I would definitely sleep in as long as possible, enjoy a nice up of tea or coffee while it was still hot. A long walk in the woods with my husband, a stroll through shops or a farmer’s market followed by a leisurely lunch at an outdoor café. An afternoon spent snuggling my babies under a blanket with a pile of books, then an evening in the kitchen whipping up some of my favorite comfort foods like beef stew with red wine or a hearty pasta dish. Cap it off by sitting on our deck, listening to the kids play outside and watching the stars come out, and you’ve got the perfect day!
- Where can readers learn more about you?