About Laura

I’m a writer of young-adult fiction, a full-time journalist, an SCBWI member and an aspiring cat lady.

Blog tour: My Writing Process

birdyThe lovely and talented Birdy Jones (pictured left) — who’s also my crit partner — tagged me in this blog tour, but before I answer the questions, I want to take a moment to plug her incredible picture book, “Mr. Cool,” which will be published Jan. 6 by Pow! Books.

I strongly encourage you to embrace your inner cool and pre-order Mr. Cool here.

Now, on to the tour!

1. What am I working on?

Right now I’m riding the high of that first draft. I’m working on another YA contemp that draws on some of my high school experiences — namely, an epic fast-food prank war I was involved in with Hardee’s when I was 16 and working as a Schlotzsky’s cashier. I’m having a lot of fun with this project because I’m getting to play with words in multiple languages. And then there’s the boy. He’s such a beautiful charming weirdo. And he hikes. If I were a fictional teenage girl, I’d totally date this fictional teenage boy — even despite that ridiculous hat he wears.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I’m actually going to answer this question by referencing my previous project, RJ, which is without a doubt the book of my heart. I think what makes it stand out is that it’s told from the viewpoint of a teenage synesthete — a teenage synesthete who doesn’t have superpowers or communicate with supernatural beings as most other YA books that feature synesthetes do.

Also, RJ is a little different because of how it explores issues of faith and spirituality. Although this aspect of the story doesn’t sit right with everyone, my readers who have struggled with their beliefs said they found my protagonist’s journey to be very relatable. Perhaps most importantly, my cousin — whose life story I stole for a big character — felt like I’d captured her personal journey. Her experiences are something I’ve never seen in YA before, and her story is one that demands to be told. Of course, I tell her story by turning my female cousin into a super cute hipster boy with a ponytail and glasses, but luckily, she doesn’t seem to mind.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I write my stories because I can’t not write my stories. I know that’s a total cop-out of an answer, but it’s entirely true. When an idea or a character lodges itself my brain, I can’t ignore it. Some stories just demand to be written, and I’m happy to oblige.

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

When an idea comes to me and I start to lose myself in it — as in, I arrive at work without remembering the drive or I find myself shampooing my hair three times in a row during a far-from-sustainable shower — I know the story idea is going to stick. At that point, I continue to let my mind wander until vivid scenes appear in my brain and I’m hearing the dialogue and feeling the same range of emotions my soon-to-be-written characters experience. Before long, the new story has a playlist (there’s always a playlist) and a full cast of people that fascinate me.

At that point, I allow myself to explore this new world for a few chapters, but once I’ve made my way to the inciting incident, I force myself to pull back. At that time, the mandatory plotting comes into play. I don’t think I’m a natural plotter; however, I find that plotting is a necessity. It keeps me on track, so I make myself sit down and work on fitting my outrageous, convoluted plot (seriously, everything in my early stages of writing is so overly complicated because my brain is all “WHAT ABOUT THIS AND THIS AND THIS”) into Larry Brooks‘ story structure.

From there, it’s good days where the words spill out, as well as bad days where writing truly feels like work. But eventually that utterly flawed — and, in my case, entirely too long — first draft is done. Then it’s time to move onto revisions. But I’ll save that lengthy explanation for another day.

Up Next…

Next on the tour is my friend and beta reader (and fellow k-drama lover) Katie Stout whose debut YA novel, “Hello, I Love You,” will be published next summer by St. Martin’s Press.

katieprofilepicbig_zps97119623Here’s a little about Katie:

Although I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, I now live in the north of England, where I get paid to Tweet, Tumblr, and Instagram. I’m also a YA writer, represented by Emily Keyes of The L Perkins Agency.

When I’m not glued to my computer, I love reading lots of books and consuming an unhealthy amount of Starbucks. I’m also a travel junkie, and it’s one of my missions in life to fill up every page on my passport.

I once told my kindergarten teacher that ‘W’ is blue

21I learned to read with the help of a children’s program known as “The Letter People.” I remember finding the videos dull and the puppets ridiculous, but the weirdest thing about the Letter People was that all of their letters were the same color.

Knowing that each letter has its own particular hue, it was strange to me that the puppet-makers couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to such an obvious detail. I let it slide, and when it came time to color a Letter Person each week, I made sure to select the right crayon to at least make mine correct.

When it was Mr. W’s turn, I colored him a light blue because obviously that is Mr. W’s proper hue. That day, the rest of my homework assignment involved cutting out pictures of items that start with “W” and gluing them around Mr. W, so I cut out watermelon, windows, wings and an assortment of other objects and then coated the paper and myself in Elmer’s glue.

At school the next day, when I was called on to present my homework, I explained that “W” is blue and listed the items that start with this wonderful letter.

“‘W’ is blue?” Miss Tinga asked. “Why would you say that?”

I was baffled. She was teaching me and she didn’t even know the colors of the alphabet?

But it wasn’t until second grade that I realized maybe my reality wasn’t the same as other people’s. I was doing homework at my best friend’s house when I commented on how strange it was that every math textbook printed numbers in black instead of their proper colors. She gave me the strangest look and asked what I was talking about, and I realized I’d clearly said something really weird. So I shut up about the numbers because I wasn’t about to ruin the life plan we’d mapped out where she’d marry Jonathan Knight and I’d marry Jordan Knight and we’d officially be sisters by marriage. (Spoiler: This did not work out.)

It took another two decades for me to figure out that I wasn’t the only one whose numbers, letters, days and months had colors. I stumbled across an article on synesthesia and my brain was all, “This is a thing! I AM NOT BROKEN!”

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 1.07.08 PMHaving a name for it and realizing it was totally normal (OK, maybe not totally normal, but at least totally real and not a symptom of a neurological disorder), changed the way I thought about it. Now instead of it being a thing I don’t talk about, it’s something I love to talk about. And talking about it has helped me find other synesthetes and learn about the unique ways they view the world.

Since defining why my world is a little more bizarre and colorful than other people’s, I’ve Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 1.07.26 PMlearned SO MUCH about synesthesia and every year, I take the synesthete battery — which is where I got these nifty little colored examples to the right — so I can see my associations mapped out. (If you think you might be a synesthete, head over here to take the battery and find out.)

I have grapheme-color synestheisa, which is one of the most common forms. It means my perception of numbers, letters, etc. is associated with an experience of color — but it’s all in my mind’s eye. For example, I can see that “ABC” is written in black here and that’s how I actually physically see it. However, I inherently “know” that the letters have colors similar to this: ABC. I also have what’s known as spatial-sequence synesthesia, which is a fancy way of saying that, in my case, my mental calendar roughly resembles a “Z” with the summer months falling in that vertical line.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 1.07.49 PMThere are numerous types of synesthesia, which I find absolutely fascinating. People can see music or taste words. They can feel a sensation on their skin when they hear certain sounds. Their numbers might have personalities, or they could smell something when they see a specific word.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 1.06.47 PMAnd get this: Up to 4 percent of the population has some form of synestheisa — that’s a not a small number, kids.

The more I learned about synesthesia, the more I became fascinated by the idea of writing a teenage character with it and exploring how this neurological condition affects her relationships and her beliefs about the world.

David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Baylor College who studies synesthesia, summed it up well when he said, “We all accept the reality presented to us, so synesthesia is a really direct way to look at how individual changes can lead to different beliefs about reality.” <— That’s exactly what I wanted to do with my story, and I hope I’ve pulled it off.

To learn more about synesthesia, watch Eagleman’s short video below. And if you’re also a synesthete, I’d LOVE to hear about it.

My interview with Jonathan Maberry

Jonathan_Maberry_and_RosieI’m not too great about keeping my own blog updated, but I have been blogging for the Dallas Fort Worth Writer’s Conference.

At the conference, I taught a class on interviewing experts for research, and since then, the lovely people in the DFW Writer’s Workshop have been sending some truly fascinating interviews my way with everyone from newly agented authors to New York Times bestselling authors like Jonathan Maberry.

You can check out my interview with him here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I’m on your radio, talking about giraffes

1920px-Giraffes_-_Copenhagen_Zoo_-_DSC09012I recently appeared on WAMU 88.5′s Animal House, a weekly radio program that explores the latest in animal science, pet behavior, and wildlife conservation. I discussed an article I wrote about why some zoos euthanize healthy animals.

The question of euthanasia versus birth control is at the center of a serious disagreement about the welfare of various species of domestic and wild animals. Recent events involving giraffes and lions in a Danish zoo introduced another level of complexity and emotion to this ongoing debate. Laura Moss, an editor and writer for Mother Nature Network who has done a substantial amount of reporting on this issue, joins us to offer insight.

Although it’s always a bit cringe-y to hear my own voice (I loathe leaving voicemails), you can listen here.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I went on dates with 5 fictional Japanese men. Here’s what happened

I recently came across a Japanese app called “PlusBoys” that was created to provide single women with a doting fictional boyfriend to dine with (I was doing research for a story on the culture of dining alone). Seeing as the English version of the app is free, I couldn’t resist going on a “dinner date” with every single one of these eligible Asian bachelors.

Here’s the low-down on the five men you can date with just a few swipes of your iPhone screen.


First impression: He’s got adorable glasses and he loves to read. Of course he was my first pick.

The date: Oh, heeey, Makoto! Good morning to you, too. Wait…you said good morning, but we’re having dinner?

Um, you’re asking a lot of questions about my health. I have a cold and a “broken” stomach? Am I dying?


If my stomach is broken, should I really be eating? And why do you have a watch on the table? Why do you keep glancing at it? Do I have only seconds left to live?

Makoto, that’s the second book that’s appeared on the table beside you. If we’re having a romantic meal, why are you reading multiple books during our dinner? And why do you insist on discussing my apparent IBS?


Also, you keep looking up at me. Am I a giant? I’m only 5′ 8″. How tall are you again?

You’re cute and all Mak. Can I call you Mak? But you come on a little strong with all the worrying. I just…I don’t think things are going to work out.

Verdict: Overprotective


First impression: Not my type. He’s got this whole I’m-wearing-a-suit-so-I-must-be-important vibe going on, and his profile even reads “He’s a little selfish, but very good at his work. So he’s an important person in his company.”

The date: He greets me with a charming story about “an old man that threw up on the train.” Clearly, this guy is quite the conversationalist.

He then proceeds to remove his blazer and then starts on his tie.

photo 2

photo 3

Uh, Shota, I thought I was here for dinner? Let’s save dessert for later, all right?

Luckily, he keeps his pants on and mentions that he brought back a good meal today. That works. You don’t have to make me dinner every day. Takeout is a nice change.

photo 4

Wait. Why are you smoking a cigarette, Shota? I thought it was dinnertime. I’m hungry! I didn’t eat a thing at Makoto’s, and I don’t even see any food here.


Now you’re making business calls? And you haven’t asked one question about me. Do you realize I’ve been sick? I have a cold and a broken stomach and you don’t even seem to care!

Verdict: Douche


First impression: He’s not much to look at, but maybe he has a great personality.

The date: Right off the bat he asks about my day and starts cooking pasta, so I can overlook the fact that he’s sporting Abercrombie & Fitch.

But then, this move happens.

photo 5

I don’t know, Tatsuya. That was a pretty Shota gesture there. And what’s with these glasses with the hearts on them? And the teddybear?

And wait…what are you doing now? Stop touching my food!

photo 1

You made a heart in my pasta. Um…This is just…moving a little fast for me. You’re great though, really. It’s just that I recently got out of a relationship with this total workaholic and I’m not used to being shown this much attention. So if you could just wrap up the leftovers…

Verdict: Will likely stay up all night watching me sleep


First impression: He seems…sporty. I hope he doesn’t expect me to attend all his soccer games. I do think it’s very cool that he “loves [me] very much,” but I’ll admit I’m turned off by the fact that he’s “usually just thinking about food and soccer.”

The date: You’re making me fried rice? Excellent. I’ll get the chopsticks.


photo 1

Yeah, I’m hungry too. I’ve tried and failed to eat dinner like three times today.

photo 2

Yeah, the food does look really nice. Thanks for making it.

photo 2

Yes, Kazuma. The fried rice is freaking amazing. Let’s just shut up about it, OK?

photo 3

You know what? You should be a chef. Why don’t you go be a chef right now. You’d probably be a much better chef than boyfriend. So just go to culinary school and make your freaking fried rice and talk about how awesome it is with someone who cares.

Verdict: Dude makes delicious fried rice.


First impression: Graphic designer? Bedroom eyes? I can dig it.

The date: (Unlike with the previous boys, the free download entitles me to get the full Yuji experience — 13 whole “stories”)

Welcome home? Why, thank you, Yuji. Sooo are you in my house, or did I move in with you? Because if this is my apartment, I’m gonna have to ask you to lose the cigarette.


You made me curry? I love curry!

photo 4

And you…love me. Huh.

That’s sweet, I guess. How long have we been together? Oh, three months now. Guess we can say the L-word.

Please pour me a beer too. Never mind. I guess you’re the only one who gets beer. That’s cool. I’m on cold meds anyway. Also, my stomach is broken.

Hey, you look pretty stern all of a sudden. What’s up?

photo 5

I should eat three meals a day? Even when my stomach is broken?

photo 2

You’re really insistent about this. OK, fine.

photo 3

Well, that was patronizing.

Um…why do you keep talking about the size of your potatoes and carrot? Is this conversation really about vegetables?


That’s super sweet. What should we do? A trip to the seaside, you say? Sounds great!

photo 1

Wait. Why would we go to the seaside if you don’t like to swim?

photo 2

Uh…Yuji, I gotta be honest. That makes me a little uncomfortable.

And are you seriously reading a book right now? Who are you, freaking Makoto? We’re eating dinner! And if you knew I was coming over, why didn’t you make the bed and do a little housework?

photo 2

Seriously? Yes, I said something.

photo 5

Where is this even coming from? How many beers have you had? And my forelock? Am I a horse?

Aaand now you want to be with me forever? That’s sweet, but let’s not talk in terms of forever quite yet.

I don’t mean to brag, but do you know how many fictional Japanese men have asked me to dinner recently? I’m just not at a point in my life where I’m ready to settle down with just one guy’s series of stock photos.

photo 4

OK, fine. I’ll see you later. But you are not watching me bathe.

Verdict: You could do worse.

screen480x480Final thoughts: Unfortunately, to get the full dining experience with all of these guys, by my calculations, it’s going to cost you more than $40. There’s some bizarre pay-per-story system that eventually unlocks the mysterious “Charlie” boyfriend, but it hardly seems worth it as Charlie is likely also a creeper and, despite his American name, his English probably isn’t any better.

Also, there’s no way I can’t explain $40 worth of dates with fictional Japanese men to my real-life husband.


Join me for a Google Hangout on National Pet Day

tumblr_n3occ0L8i31qd4vugo1_1280Come “hang out” with me on Friday to celebrate National Pet Day with a Google Hangout powered by the ASPCA, Google and Yahoo.

I’ll be there representing the Mother Nature Network, and there will also be some much more exciting people like Jackson Galaxy, Lil Bub and Randall, the voice of the honey badger.

We’ll be featuring adoptable cats and dogs from shelters across the country — and you can adopt one! If you’re interested in participating in the hangout and adopting a shelter pet, fill out this form.

Learn more about the event here.


Lauren Oliver’s ‘Panic’ as a K-drama


Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in the legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

* * * Starring * * *


Park Shin Hye (박신혜) as Heather


Sung Joon (성준) as Bishop


Yong Joon Hyung (용준형) as Dodge


Jeon Soo-Jin (전수진) as Natalie

This dramatic series will air on TVN this summer. (But not really. Unfortunately.)

Read more YA Meets Kdrama on these blogs:

Leila Sales’ ‘Past Perfect’ as a K-drama

I only recently discovered Leila Sales‘ books, but I devoured them all in a matter of days. “Past Perfect” lasted me just a few hours, but it cracked me up and briefly made me consider a career as a historical re-enactor.

The book has forbidden love, memorable characters and hysterical pranks between two warring historical villages, so naturally it would make a great Korean drama. (I totally should’ve cast this with photos of the actors in hanbok.)

past-perfectAll Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village, it turns out Ezra’s working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated…even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new.

 * * * Starring * * *

da-heeKim Da Hee (김다희) as Chelsea

nam bo ra

Nam Bo Ra (남보라) as Fiona


Park Hyung-Sik (박형식) as Dan


Kang Ha Neul (강하늘) as Ezra


Eun Ji Won (은지원) as Bryan

This romantic comedy full of hanboks and prankster antics will air on TVN this summer. (But not really. Unfortunately.)

Read more YA Meets Kdrama on these blogs:

Sarah Dessen’s ‘The Truth About Forever’ as a K-drama


A long, hot summer… That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother sharing a silent grief at the loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes unexpected things can happen — things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

 * * * Starring * * *

macyJung Soo Jung (정수정) as Macy Queen

wesHong Jong Hyun (홍종현) as Wes Baker

kristyJeon Soo-Jin (전수진) as Kristy Palmetto

monicaJung So Min (정소민) as Monica Palmetto

bertKang Min Hyuk (강민혁) as Bert Baker

deliaChoi Gang Hee (최강희) as Delia

momAhn Sun Young (안선영) as Deborah Queen

Read more YA Meets Kdrama on these blogs:

‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’ as a Korean Drama


John Marsden’s international bestseller comes to life in Korea when Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip and find things hideously wrong. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in Seoul has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision — run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.

* * * Starring * * *


Kim Da Hee (김다희) as Ellie Linton


Shin So Yul (신소율) as Corrie Mackenzie


Kim Myung Soo (김명수) as Kevin Holmes


Lee Ho Won (이호원) as Homer Yannos


Ha Yeon Soo (하연수) as Fiona Maxwell


Lee Hyun Jae (이현재) as Lee Takkam (Yes, I finally found a role for my #1 k-drama love.)


Yoon Young Ah (윤영아) as Robyn Mathers

This action-packed, high-drama series will air on TVN (as all the best dramas do) in February.

Read more YA Meets Kimchi on these blogs: