A Day in the Life Presents . . . Poet and Fiction Author, Lauren McBride

Terrie Leigh Relf: What types – and forms – of writing do you do?

Lauren McBride: I have published a few short stories, a couple of articles, several 100-word drabbles, and hundreds of poems. My poetry varies from long to short, free verse to formal. Some follow specific rhyme schemes or syllable counts. Many are minimalist and limited in line count like the traditional haiku or six word sci(na)ku.

With poetry, every word counts. I believe writing poetry helps me write better stories, especially drabbles where the entire story must be told in exactly 100 words.

Terrie Leigh Relf: What is your area(s) of subject matter expertise? How did you discover this niche? What intrigues you about it?

Lauren McBride: I don’t have a particular niche. I have written several nature-themed poems for adults and children. I also write speculative poetry (sci-fi/fantasy/horror), which happened by accident.

When I was new to publishing, I came across a drabble contest, my first, with the theme: Genetic Experiments Gone Wrong. Since I used to do genetic research, I felt confident enough to submit several drabbles to see if any would get accepted. As editor, you, Terrie, asked me if I wrote speculative poetry. I had to ask you what it was!

I read and write about nature because nature is beautiful. I read and write speculative poetry because the imagination is boundless.

Terrie Leigh Relf: How do you balance your creative and work time?

 Lauren McBride: I don’t balance my time; I make time by sleeping less. I suppose most writers could say that.

To be more specific, on a good week, I create computer time (which includes typing up my scribbles, sending submissions and tracking acceptances/rejections) by working late into the night instead of watching TV, then getting up early to work until sunrise. As I go about daytime activities, I write in my head, and scribble anything that seems promising on whatever is nearby – napkins, envelopes, my hand, etc. to type up later. My husband indulges me with stapled scrap paper booklets, and keeps my computer in working order – bless him.

Fully half my days, I can’t find five minutes to work at my computer, but I can still think and scribble.

Terrie Leigh Relf: What tips do you have for other writers?

Lauren McBride: If this is your passion, make time, even if you write only to please yourself.

If you do decide to publish, analyze your rejections, which will always outnumber acceptances. The problem might not be your writing, but trying to match it to a market. Several times I have had one editor reject a poem only to have another tell me it was some of my best work.

Also, I have found it rewarding to email fellow writers when I like their work (usually an editor will pass along a compliment), and to thank editors for rejections as well as acceptances. Being told a poem is rejected lets me submit it elsewhere. Not knowing wastes valuable time. I have made e-friends with several editors and fellow writers this way.

Terrie Leigh Relf: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and your creative process in particular?

Lauren McBride: When I read, I want to care about characters and what happens to them. But when I write, I usually start with a setting, be it a beautiful spot in nature or a New Earth that stinks like skunk. For a minimalist poem, that might be enough. But for a longer poem, a drabble or a story, I try to expand my idea to include someone or something to care about to make it memorable.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Where do your ideas come from?

Lauren McBride: Anywhere and everywhere. My bio lists faith, nature, science, and membership in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA). In addition, reading often leads to ideas, especially articles in Scientific American. The 15 words or less poetry picture challenge by Laura Purdie Salas posted Thursdays on her blog has inspired many poems and led to several publications.

I also enjoy writing for themes like the drabble contest. For the Nesting theme of the 21st contest, a TV show about rogue planets inspired my drabble that won second place (included below). And for the 17th contest, “When Food Attacks,” watching worms while I gardened gave me an idea that earned me an honorable mention (included below).

Terrie Leigh Relf: Where else have you been published? Upcoming publications? Awards and other accolades?

Lauren McBride: I feel fortunate to have published over 400 poems and a few short stories. I am honored to be a frequent contributor to the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review and delighted to have been nominated for the SFPA’s Rhysling and Dwarf Star awards.

My non-genre poetry has appeared recently in the Aurorean, The Heron’s Nest, Quatrain.Fish, and tinywords.

My speculative poetry has appeared recently in Eye to the Telescope, Focus (magazine of the British Science Fiction Association), Illumen, Kaleidotrope, Scifaikuest, and Star*Line. I have also received Honorable Mention in a recent Drabble Harvest contest.

My children’s poetry and stories have appeared in Beyond Centauri, FrostFire WorldsSpaceports & Spidersilk, and Stories for Children Magazine.

Terrie Leigh Relf: What are you working on now?

Lauren McBride: Mostly short poems and drabbles, because I can write them quickly.

Terrie Leigh Relf: What challenges have you faced as a writer and/or with a particular project? How did you meet them? What did you learn from these challenges, and how did they make you a better writer?

Lauren McBride: I like to try various styles of poetry whenever I come across them in an article, or an editor challenges me. I enjoy trying to fit words into the puzzle pieces of a form.

Discovering sci(na)ku inspired me to write an article called Hay(na)ku/Sci(na)ku – Six-Word Poetry, which appeared in Scifaikuest (May 2015).

I have recently learned of joined drabbles, which will be an interesting challenge. My ideas for drabbles usually come quickly. Massaging the story into 100 words exactly takes a bit of computer time. For a joined drabble, the story will have to be 200 words, divided neatly in two, with each 100 word story able to stand on its own. Sounds like fun. I think writing a joined drabble with another person, a drabble leap-frog, might be fun also.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Are you currently, or have you ever, been in a writing group? Your thoughts?

Lauren McBride: I like to imagine trying this in the future, but for now, I could not ask anyone to devote any time to reading and critiquing my work when I have so little time to give back to them.

Terrie Leigh Relf: I know our readers would love to hear about your networking, marketing, and promotional experiences – including tips.

Lauren McBride: This is not an area I have needed to explore much yet, but if I ever want to accomplish more with my writing, I will have to.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t asked? For example, what would you like to see more of in your specific genre? In the publishing field? Where do you see yourself in the next year? Next five years? 

Lauren McBride: I would love to publish more of my mainstream children’s poetry. I have written several rhyming poems, which aren’t terrible, but children’s poetry is a tough market, and to my complete surprise, one major publication said they weren’t seeking rhyming verse for children. Really? I loved rhyming poetry as a child. I still do.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Thank you so much for creating the time to participate in this interview series, Lauren. Here are her drabbles to inspire you – and be sure to read her bio, too!

DRABBLES

2nd place for the theme, “Nesting,” 21st Drabble contest

Protocol Stipulates Completely Lifeless

Our away team expected to find nothing on the rogue planet, dark and drifting light-years from its sun.

Instead we found a series of doors, each leading to a dwelling nested within others, closer and closer to the planet’s core; a mute record of the natives’ struggle for heat while the cold of space closed in behind. All was frozen now, even the natives clustered at the door of a new dwelling, partially excavated.

But then ship’s sensors detected liquid oceans beneath two frozen seas. And there, incredibly, countless creatures swarmed the dark depths surrounding hydrothermal vents.

Mining rights suspended.

***

Honorable Mention for the theme, “When Food Attacks,” 17th Drabble contest

Two by Two

“Sweetie, I’m hungry. When’s supper?”

“Now.” He pointed to a vat where things squiggled. “Remember the briefing? On this star-liner we don’t need to eat. Swallow two of these and they reproduce in your stomach. Crew calls it ‘take-in’ food. ”

“Swallow them live?”

“Yes. Just rinse off their native acid first. Watch: gloves, grab, rinse, gulp. Your turn.” He thought she might hurl, but she managed.

“Hurts.” She grabbed her stomach. “Like being pregnant with an angry baby.”

“You chose male and female, right? Because two males will fight.”

“How the heck do you tell them apart?”

“Oh no……. MEDIC!”

*

Lauren McBride finds inspiration in faith, family, nature, science, and membership in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA). Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the SFPA’s Rhysling and Dwarf Stars Awards, her poetry has appeared in dozens of speculative, nature, and children’s publications, including the Aurorean, Eye to the Telescope, Silver Blade, Spaceports & Spidersilk, Star*Line, The Grievous Angel, tinywords and Songs of Eretz, where she is a frequent contributor. She enjoys swimming, gardening, baking, reading, writing, and knitting scarves for troops.

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