Laura McNeill

52C copy

Laura adores hot coffee, good manners, the color pink, and novels that keep her reading past midnight. She believes in the beauty of words, paying it forward, and that nerds rule the world. Laura is a fan of balmy summer nights, fireflies, and pristine mountain lakes. She lives in Mobile, Alabama with her two sons.

You can find Laura Tweeting @Lauramcneillbks and blogging at You can connect with Laura on social media here: Pinterest | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook |

Order Center of Gravity from Amazon or find it wherever books are sold.

1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I had left the television news industry after anchoring and reporting for six years and had lots of great stories after being out in the field. The best one, however, happened a few weeks before I started reporting. The two main anchors, who were in a romantic relationship, had gotten into an argument in the station parking lot. It turned ugly and one punched the other. They both ended up getting fired.

The story stayed with me for so long—I always thought it needed to be in a book. So, when I started my first manuscript (and everyone says “write what you know”), I wrote about a news producer and all of the crazy things that happen behind the scenes at a television studio…including the two main anchors who get into a fist fight on air.

2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I work full-time as well as go to graduate school, so a usual writing day for me during the week is to get up between 5:30 and 6 am and finishing writing or editing by 8 am, at which point, I race to grab a shower and get to work by 8:30 am. The evenings are dedicated to my boys and homework. On the weekends, my writing schedule.

3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I’m really lucky, I don’t. If I get stuck on a plot point or need help talking through an idea, I turn to my author friends. Generally, after a little discussion, I can figure it out!

4.Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing a story? Definitely a plotter. I write pretty detailed outlines—my last one was several thousand words. I like to have an idea of what’s happening in each chapter, and how the novel will end. I’m always open to changing and tweaking the outline as I’m writing.

I’m also a fan of story structure, and love Larry Brooks’ website for insight on character arc, tension, and pacing.

5.Are you traditionally or self-published, and what was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? I’ve indie published 4 novels under the pen name, Lauren Clark, and am traditionally publishing Center of Gravity with HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson, as well as a second novel which is coming out in April 2016.

The publishing process as an indie author has definitely been a learning experience, especially the first time in 2011. I was fortunate to have help from some veteran authors who had been through the formatting and publishing gauntlet a few times. With Harper Collins, I’m fortunate. The HC team takes care of the entire publishing and distribution process.

Advice to aspiring authors – Read a lot, write a lot. Try to write a little every day, even if it’s a blog post or a short poem. Finish your first manuscript, even if you think it’s terrible. Work with a good editor; always try to improve your writing. Read books about writing.

6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? My highlight has definitely been connecting with readers. I’ve made friends on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and I’ve actually been able to meet some in person at conferences and conventions!

7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Center of Gravity is about a woman who marries a charming widower and adopts his 8-year-old son. They have a baby, and a series of unrelated incidents trigger the husband’s jealousy, anger, and an eventual descent into madness. When he takes the couple’s two sons and files for divorce and custody, heroine Ava Carson must fight to save her children.

8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? Center of Gravity is a suspense novel targeted for women (and men) in their mid-twenties and up, especially those who have and/or love children.

9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? In my spare time, I spend time with my two wonderful young boys, read, blog, go to yoga, run, vacation, travel, enjoy the two book clubs I belong to, and time with my friends and family.

10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books?(What to do and what not to do.) For new authors trying to build a fan-base, I would suggest connecting with readers on Goodreads and using one social media tool, like Instagram. If you can blog, do that once a week and try to collect names for a newsletter, which you can send out when your book is ready to publish. It’s important NOT to overwhelm yourself. Don’t try to use every social media tool available. Pick a few and master those.

If I can give any other advice, it is to be authentic (be yourself), pay it forward (retweet other posts, promote other authors) and don’t spam other people with posts that say “Buy My Book.” Readers will just tune you out.

11.How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiencesMy books, Center of Gravity, and Sister Dear, take place in the Coastal South. Center of Gravity is set in Mobile, Ala. and Sister Dear in St. Simons/Brunswick, Georgia.

In terms of true experiences, Center of Gravity is about the dissolution of a marriage. I had recently endured an extremely stressful divorce, myself, and I had spent the past year talking to other women and men about their stories of love and loss.

It seemed that everyone I talked to had an aunt, a cousin, a best friend, or a sister who had been through a tragic, heart wrenching break up. Some involved children, some didn’t. Many included alienation from friends and family. Some involved violence. The majority involved a long, drawn out court battles. All of the stories left me feeling, somehow, that I was not quite alone. I began writing the novel which would become “Center of Gravity.”

 Center of Gravity 2


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