Recently Laurie Smith chatted with me about a few of her favorite things, including her first novel, Pockets of Promise.
KF: Where is your favorite place to write? I have a variety of favorite writing spots, but I know many authors who have a specific place where they do all their writing.
LS: For the past two summers, we’ve spent a week in a one-bedroom condo situated on a harbor in Manistee, Michigan. Whether the sun was rising, sitting high in the sky, or setting, I never tired of the view. Waves lapped against boats docked just steps away from our balcony, and the general ambiance inspired me to brainstorm and plot future books. I told my husband that condo would make the perfect setting for a writer’s retreat.
KF- I agree!
LS: If only we lived closer to the beach…
KF: Coffee or chocolate? I refuse to choose. 😉
LS: Ten out of ten times, I’ll choose chocolate when given a choice between coffee and chocolate. But I have a unique relationship with coffee. I’ve always loved the aroma of a fresh brew, but I’ve never tolerated the taste. Until 2020.
My dad had been admitted to ICU with congestive heart failure complicated by endocarditis, and on my way to sit with him, I stopped at Dunkin’ to grab a cup of coffee for my mom. Spotting unsweetened coconut on the menu and needing a bit of a pick-me-up, I ordered my own cup. The coconut flavor masked the bitterness, and I must admit my route to the hospital took a detour through the Dunkin’ parking lot more than once that winter.
Around this same time, my husband started cold-brewing various blends of coffee. Knowing I enjoyed Dunkin’s coffee, he warmed a cup of Starbucks’ Kenya African blend, added a splash of milk, and encouraged me to try it. The coffee didn’t disappoint, but we soon discovered the Kenya blend was either out of stock or too expensive thanks to shipping delays and stock shortages as a result of the pandemic.
One day while grabbing groceries from an international market here in Cincinnati, he stumbled upon a similar Kenya blend distributed by Seven Hills Coffee that is just as tasty, if not better, and less expensive. Having the chance to support this local roaster only sweetens this discovery.
To date, I’ve found two blends of coffee that please my palate, but I’ve probably tasted only two types of chocolate I wouldn’t care to try again.
KF: here’s a link to the coffee company Laurie is talking about: https://sevenhillscoffee.com/ I’m always on the hunt for delicious coffee.
KF: Congratulations on publishing your first novel! How exciting! What is something you learned while writing Pockets of Purpose?
As I wrote this book, uncertainty dominated every single aspect of my life. The four of us joined the rest of the world in trying to figure out how to live in the midst of a pandemic. My husband was on a four-month furlough, and our daughters navigated the new waters of online learning. At the same time, my dad’s physical condition worsened, and he spent eight months in a hospice facility.
Most days, Matthew 6:34 came to mind. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” I didn’t always succeed, but I tried my best to remain present, to enjoy the quiet moments with my dad and to embrace the gift of extra quality time with Travis and our girls while we sheltered in place.
But it became more and more difficult to push aside my worries for the future and focus on the troubles of today.
KF: I think all of us can relate to that, especially during 2020.
LS: I would then remember the message from the rest of that passage. Matthew 6:26 resonated with me. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
During those bedside visits with my dad, the birds that visited his window captured my interest. My family started paying attention to the birds in our yard. We identified each new feathered friend and kept on our kitchen counter a running list of the species we spotted.
Guess you wouldn’t be surprised then to learn that the heroine in Pockets of Purpose shows a fondness for birds throughout the book, and I was able to weave the verses from Matthew 6 into the story.
KF: All authors have a favorite scene or two in each book they write. What is your favorite scene in Pockets of Purpose and why?
LS: From the day I decided to write about an Amish auctioneer, I pictured him looking like Heath Ledger. That man had a contagious smile!
LS: One of my favorite scenes occurs early in the book. Dixie has recently traveled from Pinecraft to Holmes County, and in Chapter 5, Gideon is excited to show her around Mt. Hope Auction. She produces the pizza they’ve brought with them for dinner as an item up for bid and encourages him to demonstrate how he would call an auction. She’s bolder than the young women he interacts with on a regular basis, and there’s a good deal of banter and flirtation that makes me root for them even as I replay the scene in my mind now.
KF: What is your favorite holiday/season to write about and why?
LS: Summer is my favorite season of the year. I like the longer days and the break from our regular routine, which offers the freedom to have fun with my family.
In addition to The Pocket Quilt Series, I’ve written three wounded warrior contemporary romances, and my agent has submitted the proposals to various publishing houses. I can think of several scenes in those books that take place during July 4th backyard barbecues, picnics, and parades. I hope to have a chance to share these stories with you someday soon.
KF: I hope so too! ☺
While writing Amish fiction and contemporary romance, Laurie Stroup Smith strives to inspire readers to serve others. She writes full-time and lives with her husband and their two daughters in Cincinnati. Connect with Laurie at: lauriestroupsmith.com.