Landis began her writing career in the first grade, went on to graduate from MSU, and then snagged a law degree because her mother told her, “Writers starve so get a real job.” Now a judge, and an avid romance and mystery reader, she writes fiction and nonfiction for varied ages. Daddy’s Baby is her debut YA novel.
Q: You have been a part of the Lansing area community of writers for a long time. What do you think being connected in this way does for a writer? And specifically what do you think it has done for you?
A: The Lansing Area has been an extremely nurturing atmosphere for me as a writer because it is a close knit community of people from every background under the sun. We all have a story to tell. Lansing is small, but packed with rich cultural experience. I was able to work, spend time with my hubby, raise children and still keep up with my writing because Lansing Community College had an excellent writing program and caring, helpful writing instructors. It gave me a safe place to hone my craft. Through the writing program, I met lots of great writers and ended up with a fierce critique group, who are not only my friends but provide emotional support and honest, helpful suggestions about how to make my writing better. They keep me grounded but are also my biggest supporters
Q: You also belong to a small group of writers who have been meeting and supporting for years. Why has this been important in moving you forward?
A: There are two types of people: Dog people and cat people. Dog people love to interact and are always willing to do so. Most Writers I’ve met are what I call ‘cat people’. Cat people only want/need to interact on a limited basis, have an inherent optimism that there is an audience out there that must like them and like other artists, tend to be somewhat self-contained, especially when it pertains to the craft. Every artist has to have alone time to visit the characters, pictures and stories in his/her head. Alone time fuels the creative process.
A: However, having been raised by a professional artist taught me that I also needed people who would be able to see my vision without me having to explain every little thing or feel like I have to justify every twist in my stories. So, the writer’s group ‘Sista Locks’ was formed over the years. We have morphed into not only a critique group, but a close knit group of sisters who share a vision and stories that need to be told. We each have to write our own stories. There are stories that need to be told without being watered down or fixed by people who cannot relate to the stories we are trying to tell. In order for that to happen, we have to be very intimate with one another on an emotional basis. That level of intimacy provides each of us with a safe haven, to share, grow and become the writers we need to become. That intimacy allows us to expand our repertoire as writers, to branch out and take risks we might not otherwise take. Sista Locks is my safe Haven
Q: After attending Rally, what does it feel like now to be a presenter?
A: I am honored to be in such fabulous company. My first Rally, I felt like a first grader. I learned so much. Every Rally thereafter, I learned that writers are a wonderful, optimistic group who support each other no matter what. Now, I feel like an eighth grader. I’m still not the writer that I will become but I’m getting there and my stories are getting better and better. The fact that Rally Coordinators think so highly of my work and of me is a huge compliment. It is thrilling that the LCC community of writers has helped me grow so much as a writer. The gift of encouragement is priceless. I thrilled to be able to share. Thank You! I am grateful.
Q: What would you say to writers who get discouraged before they reach the finish line and type THE END? What kept you going?
A: PRACTICE MAKES EXCELLENT. WRITE ON!! The story can only get better. Sometimes you have to get to know your story or your characters before they will let you put them down on paper. Get to know yourself as a writer. The better you know yourself the more confidence you will build and the more confidence you have in yourself, the more risks you take. The more risks you take the better the story. I have to write or the stories in my head crowd out everything else. It’s often what I think about when I get up and before I go to bed. My characters and their problems are real to me. My innate understanding that I must tell the stories for myself first is what keeps me going. Sometimes I’ll go back and read what I wrote five, ten years ago. If the story still makes sense, then that story is probably a story that will resonate with others. It’s my gift to the world. My critique group, my family and friends have all been really supportive of my writing and have given me the gift of acceptance, something we all strive for
Q: What was one of the biggest surprises you found about publishing and making your book a reality?
A: It was how much work there is on the marketing side. I just wanted to write and have people read my stories, maybe make a bit of money. I thought, my story is really good. People will read it and agree. But people won’t read it if they don’t know about it. Marketing is a major in college for a reason. It is a full time job. I already have a full time career as an Attorney and a part-time job as a Writing Instructor at LCC. The marketing means that I have to TALK to people and connect with them personally or they aren’t going to read the book. I have to be on social media, which again requires me to spend energy connecting with others. As a cat person, that makes for a tough road because I want to be writing! I want a cup of tea, fuzzy slippers, my laptop and a cookie, which means I have to find time to work out so I can stay in shape enough to get out there and market. WHEW
I also learned that I have to spend money to make money. I have to go to book fairs and promotional events. That can get expensive, especially when I have to be judicious in where and how I spend my time and energy. Promotion is a huge job. There are millions of writers out there and I have to make my voice heard in a unique manner in order to sell books
Q: How hard has it been to move back and forth from writer mode to book promoter mode?
A: My mom used to tell me, “You can have it all. Just not all at the same time.” Moving back and forth from writer mode to book promoter mode is Extremely difficult, but rewarding. I’ve met some really wonderful people out there. I’ve connected with other writers and readers who have all taught me something. One reader, a woman from a book club told a group of writers that she doesn’t buy a book at a book fair unless the writer gets up and connects with her and explains why she should spend her limited funds on my book rather than someone else’s. So I got up and talked to her and she bought the book. Her book club is going to read my book and have me come speak to them about it. Lesson learned. I still feel uncomfortable sometimes, but practice makes excellent and I’m determined to give this opportunity a run for my money…..