A Revealing Interview with CW Publishing Head Honcho Laura Callender

About Laura Callender

As the founder of CWC (Collaborative Writing Challenge), and the newly launched publishing company: CW Publishing House, Laura has mainly focused on developing her concept to bring writers together to produce full-length fiction novels. She gets very little time to write at the moment, despite being more motivated than ever. Laura has published one children’s book and has two more on the way, and is a very proud mom to her daughter Olivia, and her second daughter April, due any day now. Originally from the UK Laura now lives in New York with her

husband David. You can connect with Laura using the following links:

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lauracallender

Twitter: @CollaborativeWC

Website: http://www.cwpublishinghouse.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Collaborativewritingchallenge

1. Tell me what motivates you. In writing, in life, in love- what is your motivation?

I guess I would have to say self satisfaction. By this I mean that I strive for that sense of accomplishment, knowing I have put my all into something, no matter the outcome. I think most people recognize when they are functioning at a lower capacity than they are capable of, and on the rare occasion I do that, I don’t feel right. It irritates me because I like to be thorough. I would imagine many people strive to make others happy, but that’s not my motivation at all. If I can say I’m proud of myself, that’s what matters to me!

2. What frustrates you? In writing, in live, in love- what drives you crazy?

Probably the opposite of what motivates me. I once managed a company, and had to deal with some very disgruntled staff. I noticed that most of the employees were not doing their jobs to my standard. Someone gave me some great advice: Don’t expect them to deliver to your standard, expect them to deliver to the standard that is expected of them. It sounds strange, but you really should try hard not to compare yourself to anyone. You have to find the things you like, love, respect about other people, even those that infuriate you. Not everyone goes above and beyond, and that’s okay, integrity is not a defined standard, everyone has their own level to manage and providing they are doing what is asked, than that’s okay. I have learned to be very transparent about what I need. In writing, projects, love etc. That way I expose myself to less disappointment.

3. What was the most difficult thing you ever wrote? Why do you think it was so difficult for you?

It would have to be a letter to my dad when i was about 17 years old. My father is a wonderful loving, caring man, both my parents are, but we butted heads at that age and I struggled to communicate with him. I figured sending him a letter to explain how I felt was a good idea.
Apparently not. He was very offended that I couldn’t just talk to him. Aside from that, It would be a poem I wrote when I was about 10 years old for a friends funeral. I never experienced death before or since then, so I always remember how much pain I felt, saying how much I missed the person. With regards to recent projects and writing, I find it hard writing new genres, but I absolutely love the challenge. I will attempt anything, I’m fearless like that.

4. If you woke up tomorrow morning with an elephant in your back yard, what would you do?

First of all, I would thank the universe for providing me with a back garden! (You have no idea how much I want one) Then when I accept I really have a garden, I would probably get my camera and take a picture, because lets face it, who’s gonna believe me! Let’s just say I always had a garden, and I walk out of the house with a cup of tea in my hand, and there is a huge elephant looking at me, I would probably say “Woahhhhh – Where did you come from?” Then I would look around for the camera crew, or some kind of logical explanation!

5. Tell me about how your personal life affects your writing? Do you write your real life relationships into your fictions?

I find it hard to write when I am emotionally drained. Well I should say I find it hard to write fiction, but sometimes I like to get my thoughts down on paper to try and relax my mind a little.

This could be a poem, a letter, or the start of a story relating to the situation i’m in. Compared to many writers I have met, I don’t have any extreme family or physical or psychological issues that hold me back, or influence me. I am a very balanced individual with a great family. I think this is why I am enjoying experimenting with fantasy writing, as I feel free to let my mind wander and see what it can do!

6. What single piece of writing would you consider to be your biggest, best, or boldest achievement to date? Why? Tell us some more about the piece of writing behind the achievement.

Wow that’s a really hard question. It’s only been over the last year that I have really started to see my writing improve and receive praise from other writers who are honest and open with their critique. I’m very proud of a starter chapter I wrote for one of CWC’s collaborations. Although it was not chosen by the writers, it came second place, and CWC’s two story coordinators both selected it for voting not knowing I had written it. It was a little sneaky on my part, but I genuinely wanted to know if it was good, I had that fear that my peers wouldn’t be honest with me, despite knowing that both were very capable at giving critique – so when it was given blind praise, it gave me a boost that I desperately needed! Since then a number of writers that read the chapter have expressed an interest in writing it with me. I find that a huge compliment!

7. What is the hardest part about writing for you? Do you think other writers share this problem?

I think I’m yet to come across the hard part. I know many writers struggle with different aspects, such as character development or brain fog. I’m a very relaxed writer, I write when I can, and I write what comes naturally. If I struggle, I walk away and think about something else, and I truly don’t dwell on it. I will go back to it when I feel ready or inclined to do so. I think the times I have found it hardest to write is when I have a clean house, some alone time, and no reason not to sit down and get creative. That’s when I feel like I’m forcing it. I work best when the feeling strikes at any time; day or night. I no longer make time for writing, I just ensure I have time when writing comes to me!

8. What would you say is the biggest mistake you ever made while writing? What made it a mistake? How did you fix it?

I am a very impatient person, which means reviewing my work has always been a struggle for me. I have since learned that I need to edit my work at least 3 times, then leave it a day, then edit it again; then it’s ready for an editor – in other words, it still needs work! This is a process that I had to learn. Even if the content is great, readers get distracted by errors that can be easily fixed, even on a first draft. I now try to take my time before sharing my work with anyone.

9. If you were given $100,000 right now, how would it affect your writing? Would it give you more time or less if you had a big wad of cash to spend?

I wish I could agree that was a lot of money, but that much money would go nowhere. I am so practical and a good planner, I would invest that money into a property along with some other investments I have to ensure my family could live mortgage free in a really great neighborhood.

My family will always come first. So I guess it wouldn’t effect my writing at all.
If however it had to be spent in a way where it could influence my writing, I would invest it into my new publishing company, CW Publishing House. I have started this business with very little capital, and I hope to build it very slowly. I would probably invest the whole sum into Marketing, this would help generate exposure and would insure a steady income from the books we plan to publish. When your work is also your passion, it is easy to feel constantly inspired by the people around you. I thrive off the contacts and friends I have made since starting CWC, I feel like all these people fuel me and make me strive to not only be a great asset to them, but also to be a respectable peer. I want to show everyone that not only can I coordinate stories, organize people, throw things together quickly and effectively, but also that I am a writer just like you!

10. What has been the biggest surprise you have had as a result of your writing? Was it a land-mine or a revelation?

It’s a constant revelation. Every time I put pen to paper I surprise myself. I love reading things to my husband and hearing him ask, “You just made that up?” I feel like there is so much in my brain that I’m yet to discover!

11. If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jellybeans, what would you do?

I used to work as a long haul flight attendant so I kind of feel like I have already done this. Have you seen what a 747 full of people looks like after a 17 hour flight? Well I have, and a bunch of jellybeans is a great description! If we are talking literally – Jelly beans – I would ask if you mean a cargo full of jelly beans, or is the interior of the plane literally bursting with candy? Then If it was my job to do it (and I would double check first, and make sure I’m getting paid) I would just open all the doors and watch then fall out, brush out the remaining offending candies, and be sure to fill my pockets at the same time—I love jelly beans!!

12. Who would win a fight between spider-man and batman?

Probably Spider-man, although I would be routing for Batman. Spider-man could very easily disable someone using his spider web, but Batman is the underdog, with no natural powers to aid him, only his suit and sheer will can help him out.

13. If you could get rid of one state in America, which one would it be and why?

Washington, without a doubt. But my answer is probably a little deeper than just getting rid of a state, my intention would be to get rid of a corrupt government along with it and start afresh!

14. What song best describes your work ethic when it comes to your writing?

“A whole new world” Yes I’ve been watching Aladdin with my 19 month old daughter, but it seems very fitting right now. I’m currently working on a story that involves creating a new world within the world we live in. It’s an up-lifting song, inspiring, upbeat, fun. I think its very fitting!

15. A penguin walks through the door right now. He is wearing a sombrero. What does he
say and why is he here?

“Hey amigos, I was wondering if you had some ice I can use. I’m feeling a little bit hot right now.” (Not sure why, but I’ve made this penguin Mexican – so you need to imagine the accent too) He goes on to tell me that he got scooped up by a trawler boat and brought into the docks. Once the net was released he escaped, heading into the city on the back of a motorcycle with a cute blonde biker chic. He figured whilst he was here he would try out a train, which brought him to where I live. He took the sombrero off a sleeping homeless guy, just to try and be more discreet, but the journey had worn him out and he needed to chill out with some ice before figuring out how to get home!

16. How would you rate your communication skills? How would people communicate in a
perfect world?

My husband may disagree with this but I think my communication skills are my biggest asset. I have an innate ability to read people and figure out what they need, so I can easily adapt to be understood by them. When I was working on a flight as cabin crew, a passenger was intently watching me without me realizing. Later on he approached me, and said he recognized something about me. He said I adapted the way I interacted with every single passenger to accommodate them, and he had come across only a few people like that in his lifetime. He recommended some books I should read, but he basically told me about myself, and he was very accurate. It was all centered around being highly intuitive to others and being able to give people what they need, even if they were not good at communicating with me. Unfortunately he also

highlighted the frustrations that come with this insight, and empathized with me. I wish everyone was more insightful with each-other, but sadly that will never be the case!

17. What two celebrities would you pick to be your parents?

I wouldn’t. I place no value on celebrities and can’t even pretend to enjoy the question haha

18. If you were a kitchen utensil, what utensil would you be? Why?

I would be a kettle. I can be hot and cold, I prefer to be full, I need to blow off steam at times, and you can use me to make that comforting hot drink you have been needing all day.

19. If you could switch bodies with anyone on the planet who would you be?

Probably a remote tribal person, who’s doing something so basic but valuable to the tribe. I have always felt like I could live a simple life and thrive in it. Our modern world is just so complicated and frustrating. We are surrounded by confusion and conflict, so I would love to remove myself from all that and live a humble life in a community that recognizes the
importance of unity.

20. How do you think your writing affects your readers? How do you feel about that?

I haven’t yet published a novel as an individual writer, so I should probably talk about the collaborative novels I have been involved with. I know these novels have probably conflicted the reader. Depending on the audience, and how particular they are about what they need from a book—greatly changes what they will get from it. Some people will always struggle with
collaborative writing, they look for the intricacies of a well developed novel, rather than appreciate the overall collective effort. I hope that people love what I put out, both personally and professionally, but either way, I accept you can’t please everyone!

21. What do you worry about and why?

I worry about loosing loved ones because I am fortunate enough to have never lost a family member in my lifetime, and only one friend when I was very young. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to handle the pain, and won’t have the strength to process it.

22. Who has inspired you most in life and why?

My parents. Each in very different ways. My dad in his work, his work ethic and the way he respects others. He was an admirable leader, well liked and respected and he has always had integrity. My mum for being so strong and determined. She raised me and my brother right. She ensured we had good manners and always did creative things with us to keep us engaged. I have told my parents this before, but I don’t think they truly know just how much I love and respect them. I always say if I can be half as good a parent to my daughters as they were to me, I would consider myself successful.

23. What (if anything) makes writing impossible for you? How do you overcome this?

I think the only thing that would make it impossible would be two broken hands, both in casts.

Aside from that I really don’t see anything getting in the way. Life happens, and I get busy, but who doesn’t. That’s just temporary. I think when writing is in your heart it will always find an avenue back to your fingers!

24. If you were an ocean, what ocean would you be? Why?

I would be the pacific ocean. Presuming as an ocean I would have special abilities — I mean, I am an ocean after all — I would do a spring clean and remove all the pollutants ensuring all the fish were healthy and in abundance for people to eat.

25. Tell me something you have never told anybody else.

“You’re worthless.” I have never, and will never tell anybody this! Aside from that, I’m a total open book, and I can’t think of one thing that I haven’t shared with either my husband, parents, brother or friends. (I’m not calling you worthless by the way lol)

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