Thursday, February 4, 2016

Laura Chapman is in a league of her own...plus a book giveaway

We’re so excited to have Laura Chapman here with us today, sharing her insights on writing, authors who inspire her, and of course, fantasy football! Her latest novel, Going For Two (reviewed here), is part of the "Queen of the League" series, featuring one of the coolest women to ever inspire girl empowerment, Harper Duquaine. (See my review for First & Goal, the first book in the series). 

While Harper shows the boys just what it takes to run a successful fantasy football roster, we wanted to sit down with the creative force behind this amazing series and other great reads, like The Marrying Type and Hard Hats and Doormats. She was also a contributing author for Merry & Bright, A Kind of Mad Courage, and the holiday compilation, All I Want For Christmas, from Marching Ink. Art certainly imitates life; when Laura isn’t writing, she’s cheering on the Huskers and the Packers, participating in her own fantasy football leagues.

You can find Laura on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Goodreads, her website, and her blog.

Laura is giving away a pair of signed print copies of First and Goal and Going for Two to a lucky reader in the US or Canada!

About the Book:
Harper Duquaine is back for another season of fantasy football! This time she’s a year wiser and prepared to dominate the league. But while she finally seems to have her fantasy life in order, reality proves more challenging.

Her plans to peacefully play house with her boyfriend come to a halt when the high school suddenly names Brook its head football coach. The promotion comes with more responsibility on the field and less time at home. It also unexpectedly means more work for Harper, who already has her hands full helping a friend pull off the perfect proposal (while dodging questions about when she and Brook are going to get hitched already). Plus, a new development at work could leave her—and half of the fantasy league—jobless.


With the complications of her career and being “Mrs. Coach” adding up, Harper wonders if she’s committed to the life she’s already building or if there is something else out there.


Find the Book:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * Goodreads


Tell us about your writing process. What rituals or habits help you to stay motivated?
My writing process is always evolving. I keep working at it to find ways to make it go more smoothly. One of the things I try to do is write a little every day when I am working on a first draft. Even if it’s only fifteen minutes, it helps me keep the story fresh in my mind. Most weekdays, I wake up early and write before I go to my day job. Throughout the day, I often write notes to myself or leave voice memos if I have an idea come to me. When I’m super involved in a project, I tend to obsess about it, which means those ideas can arise at any moment. And in those instances, I’m so excited to keep going I end up spending my evenings writing, too. When the writing doesn’t come so easily, I motivate myself by listening to the playlist I’ve created for the story. Music is a big source of my inspiration, and it helps stir the creative juices. And while I tend to keep pretty quiet about sharing details about my works in progress—I’m a little superstitious—I do talk them over with my sister and one of my closest friends. They know what’s going on with each of my stories, and when I’m puzzled I can go to them with my issues. Sometimes just talking to one of them helps me come up with a resolution.

Have you ever been part of a fantasy football league? If so, how was that experience?
I have—it was actually my inspiration for writing the series. A few of my then-co-workers invited me to join their league. Unlike Harper, my co-workers were helpful. The league commissioner actually walked me through a mock draft and gave me pointers throughout the season. I was about halfway through my first real draft when I realized that this might make for a good story—fantasy football from a woman’s perspective. The next fall, I was invited to join another league, and the past few years I have had two fantasy teams a season. I have never won the coveted championship trophy, but I did place second one year. This experience gave me a good background when it came to writing these books. I knew what kind of problems might come up with your team and how you’d overcome—or succumb—to them. Aside from that, everything you read in the "Queen of the League" series is pretty much made up. Harper’s fantasy football experience is way more dramatic than mine. And I’ve never had two dishy league-mates fight for my affections like her, either. Too bad for me.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge you faced while writing the "Queen of the League" series?
It’s the same challenge I face every time I write—having the confidence and belief in myself to keep going. There are a lot of highs and lows that come with being an author (or in most lines of work). And sometimes those lows—a nasty review, paltry sales, a tricky passage that just won’t come together, no one liking the super cute photo I posted of my cat on Facebook—can trigger a “woe is me” spiral of shame that usually ends with me sprawled on the floor telling my sister or friend that I’m never writing ever again. In those lows, it feels almost impossible to keep writing. Then something happens. Someone likes that cat photo, I get a new positive review, or an idea pops into my head that is too wonderful to ignore. My biggest challenge tends to be remembering that those bad moments will pass. I actually had one of them while editing Going for Two. In tears, I told my sister that the book sucked and my months of writing had yielded crap. I was done. Then almost within an hour, I figured out how to fix the issues, and I went back to my edits. (I’m maybe a little dramatic.) While the lows are difficult, I kind of need them. They keep me humble, and they make me appreciate the highs all the more.

I love that most of your novels take place in the Midwest, having lived there nearly 14 years, myself. It feels like home when I read them. What inspired you to choose the Midwest as the locale for your characters?
I actually almost set First & Goal in Houston, then Kansas City, then Chicago, then Seattle. But when it came time to write, I realized Nebraska—specifically Lincoln—was the perfect setting for this story. There were a few practical reasons. For one, I wanted Harper and her friends to support different professional football teams. While I’m sure this happens lots of places, it’s definitely a way of life here in Nebraska. We don’t have a professional team, which means people are pretty diverse with their allegiances. I also needed a college town. Part of the conflict stems from having a couple of characters who played together in college with differing outcomes. Lincoln is home to the University of Nebraska—where we often tend to hero-worship our student athletes for decades. So that fit. I also interviewed a couple of local high school football coaches as background information while writing this series. While some of their challenges are probably universal, some seemed rooted in the location. So when it actually came time to write, it just made sense to have the story here. There is also some nostalgia for featuring Lincoln. It’s my hometown, and I love it. I wanted to share my home with others.

I love Harper Duquaine. She's so motivating, encompassing girl power! Is there a real-life person or a character from the pages of a book that motivates and inspires you?
There are so many! As an author, I find Nora Roberts, Colleen Hoover, and Mindy Kaling particularly inspiring. Nora is so studious and dedicated to her craft, and I’m a little jealous of her discipline. I appreciate CoHo for how kind and sincere she seems to be with her fans. She seems genuinely grateful for their support and pays it back and forward. And I just love Mindy Kaling. I think she’s one of the most brilliant voices of our time. I also draw a lot of inspiration from writers like Margret Atwood, Judy Blume, Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, Sophie Kinsella, Amy Poehler, and Julia Quinn. They’re all so talented and funny in different ways. When it comes to fictional characters, I find Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games series inspiring, because she’s someone who has to struggle to overcome insurmountable obstacles. Sometimes she fails, and she uses those failures to do better—or at least try to improve—in the future. I also like Anne Elliot from Persuasion. After facing huge heartbreak in her youth, many people—particularly her contemporaries—take her at face value and believe she’s become withdrawn and haggard. In actuality, she becomes someone others depend upon. She tries to be good and caring and make her small world better, even if her hopes of true happiness are by all appearances gone. Rather than becoming a jealous wench, she takes the high road. I’ve also been lucky to have some great people directly inspire and motivate me in real life. People like my mother, my sister, relatives, and my closest friends. I had so much support and encouragement growing up. I was raised to believe that with hard work, perseverance, and kindness, I could do anything. Thank goodness for strong, empowered women!

Tell us: will there be a #3 in the Queen of the League series? Are there any future projects in the works?
I am writing Three & Out, the third book in the "Queen of the League" series right now. It’s a little strange to be back with the characters after some time apart, because I wrote the first two parts before the first was released, and now I’m writing the third while the second is being released. Harper has some new adventures awaiting her, and I’m excited to give them life. I am nearly done with the first draft of a standalone project. I’m pretty sure this one is going to be a total gut job in editing, so I have it resting on the back burner while I work on Three & Out. After that, I have a long list of story ideas. I’m toying with working on the cozy mystery I started a few years ago, or maybe a regency romance, or something completely different. We’ll just have to see what happens after I finish my current project list! I’m trying not to set any hard and fast deadlines for this year. I’m turning thirty this year, and I want to allow a reasonable amount of time for the emotional crisis I’m bound to face.

Thank you to Chick Lit Central for having me on the blog, and Sara for the great interview.

Thanks to Laura for chatting with us and sharing her books with our readers.

~Introduction and interview by Sara Steven

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.



a Rafflecopter giveaway


US/Canada only. Giveaway ends February 9th at midnight EST.

12 comments:

Janine said...

I'm not a football fan. this year, I want to watch the Kitten Bowl since AT&T finally picked up the Hallmark channel.

Laura Chapman said...

Thank you to Sara and the Chick Lit Central team for sharing the wonderful review of GOING FOR TWO and hosting me for this fun interview!

Suburban prep said...

At this time we do not have plans. We will probably just be at home.

traveler said...

We will be home since it is my husband's birthday and the kids will celebrate with us.

TinaB said...

We always celebrate at home with "football food"...wings, sub sandwiches, chips & dip, etc...

Rita said...

I'll be watching the game at home.

Anita Yancey said...

I don't have any plans. I don't really like football.

susieqlaw said...

I plan to watch the game!

Seaside Book Nook said...

Watching the game, cheering for the Broncos at an annual party.

If I could have any fantasy team - hockey all the way!!!

Grandma Cootie said...

We will watch the Super Bowl, on and off for me, but "someone" made an appointment for the dog to get an injection that afternoon so we will miss a little. Now if this was the World Series and it was the SF Giants again . . . . woo hoo!

bn100 said...

watch it

rubynreba said...

We watched it at home last night! Yeah, Broncos!