Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author Laura Stegman

Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6

Summer of L.U.C.K. by Laura Stegman

1- How has your summer of 2020 been filled with luck, good or bad?

My summer has been filled with "dream-come-true"-type luck, which at this point in a pandemic is saying a lot, right? Summer of L.U.C.K., my middle grade debut, is being published next month by INtense Publications. After an almost twenty-year journey, it’s impossible to express just how lucky I feel.

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Avoid speech tags. Adding "said" before "Justin" only weakens this:
"Seriously?" Justin, who loved baseball more than ice cream, slapped Sandy a high five.

3- What is the best piece of writing advice you've received?

The best piece of writing advice I've received came from a writer who Tweeted, "There is no age limit to my dreams. Write on." In other words, keep going. Keep at it. Inspiring!

4- In your opinion, why do so many people struggle with self-acceptance?

I'm not sure I can answer that in a general way, but I can relate it to my debut novel, Summer of L.U.C.K., which is about three kids who find their way to self-acceptance with the help of a ghost who haunts a magical carnival. Darby, one of the main characters, stutters, and her low self-esteem is fostered by her mother's constant criticism. Without giving away too much, by the end of the story, Darby learns how to accept herself just as she is.

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book in a fun summer setting?

Sure, you can call this "Summer of L.U.C.K. Takes a Virtual Visit to the Beach."
Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author Laura Stegman ~Summer of L.U.C.K. Takes a Virtual Visit to the Beach

6- What was the most fun thing you did this summer?

Had there been no pandemic, I would have spent July 4 in perfect seats at an LA Dodgers game on a beautiful Los Angeles evening watching great baseball followed by even greater fireworks! Alas… But, my husband and I are making good times where we can. We started taking daily walks and discovered a knockout view at the top of a nearby hill. It's a breathlessly beautiful moment we enjoy just about every day. Check it out HERE:

7- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

@LauraStegman; besides writing, I Tweet most often about baseball; @KariVeenstra_; author, The Rescuer; I love her monthly newsletter, and we're INtense Publications "sisters"; @DenaPawling; as a critique partner for my current WIP, she has helped enormously with her insight and eye for detail (and of course she is no stranger to Operation Awesome readers!); @CherylSchuerma2, author, A Boy Called Preacher; another INtense Publications "sister" who's been super helpful with support and advice on the way to my launch date.

8- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?

I like, especially her bookstore-level-full bookshelves. Plus, she featured me along with a bunch of other 2020 debut authors in a #PassTheBookChallenge video on TikTok. It was my first (and likely only) chance at being an internet sensation. Take a look HERE:

9- What most motivates you to read a new book?

Happy endings. But by "happy endings," I don't mean that everything has to turn out okay. I'm just partial to stories that have uplifting resolutions. The hero [SPOILER] dies at the end of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, for example, but his noble action saves an innocent woman. I love that kind of thing.

10- It's our tenth anniversary! How far has your writing come in the past ten years and where do you see your writing career ten years from now?

How far? About a million miles. Ten years ago, I was halfway through Summer of L.U.C.K.'s almost twenty-year journey. Around that time, I worked with a development editor, which was invaluable. Then, four or five years back, I discovered the online writing community and found wonderful opportunities to have my work evaluated and mentored. Finally, I connected with critique partners and Beta readers. And I queried widely, with many agent requests and more agent rejections. Eventually all this feedback helped me bring Summer of L.U.C.K. up to standards that attracted a publisher. Looking ahead ten years from now, I hope I'll have written and published a collection of books beyond the three that are contracted by INtense Publications. Happy anniversary, by the way! Ten years is an outstanding accomplishment.

11- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

I have too many favorite books to identify just one, but I'll name my most recent favorite:
Author name: Jess Redman @Jess__Red
Title: The Miraculous
Love because: this uplifting story, about a how a kid re-learns to believe in miracles after a tragedy in his family, ticks all the boxes for the kind of books I love. Plus, it's just so well written that I blazed through it in like two days.

12- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?

Kids who read Summer of L.U.C.K. will likely relate in some way to the challenges faced by Darby, Justin, and Naz, my three main characters. I'm hoping readers are entertained by the experiences at summer camp and caught up in the excitement of the adventures in the story's magical carnival. If I had to use one word for the book's most important emotion, it would be hope.

13- What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?

I'd be thrilled if Summer of L.U.C.K. means as much to its readers as my favorite middle grade books meant to me. I hope kids will learn that whatever they're struggling with, others kids struggle too, and they are not alone.

14- What is the best writing tool, program, or reference book you've ever bought?

A yellow legal pad. Seriously! Many of Summer of L.U.C.K.'s first few versions were written by hand. I mean, it wasn't that computers didn't exist (I'm not that old). Eventually I realized I could be just as creative on a computer, and I switched.

15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Summer of L.U.C.K.'s most diverse character is Naz, the youngest of the three main characters, who was born in Morocco. He speaks French and Arabic, but English comes harder for him, as does the idea that he's so far away from home at an American summer camp.

16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?

I've started following some kids on Instagram who review books, and they're great fun to read, but I have no particular favorite book blogger.

17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

After a friend of mine got her middle grade novel published by querying a small press directly, I decided to do the same, and it was the best publishing-related decision I'd ever made. Not only did INtense Publications give me an enthusiastic "YES," but they also signed me to a three-book deal. Summer of L.U.C.K.'s first sequel comes out next year.

18- Which author, past or present, do you feel most resembles your work?

Among the comps I used when I was querying were You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly and Sticks and Stones by Abby Cooper, so let's just say that I ASPIRE to have my work resemble theirs. Summer of L.U.C.K. was inspired by The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton, my favorite childhood middle grade book.

19- Would you please ask our audience a question to answer in the comments?

Gladly! How many references to The Parent Trap (the original movie with Hayley Mills) can you find in the text of Summer of L.U.C.K.?

20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

Yes, thank you! Summer of L.U.C.K., my middle grade debut novel, releases September 15, 2020, from INtense Publications and is available wherever books are sold.

If you PRE-ORDER in hardcover or paperback before 9/15/20 from Children's Book World, you'll receive an exclusive Summer of L.U.C.K. bookmark PLUS an autographed copy when the book is shipped in September! (E-book Pre-Order available here: It's also available on Amazon, B&N, IndieBound, Bookshop, etc.


Stuttering Darby is never perfect enough for her mother. Justin's been silent since his dad died. Naz is struggling to learn English. But after they meet at summer camp, mysterious calliope music from an abandoned warehouse grants them power to communicate without words. When they sneak inside, the dark, empty space bursts into a magical carnival. They're greeted by the ghost of Leroy Usher, who asks for their help convincing his family to restore the carnival to its former glory. In return, he promises to teach the kids how to find their voices.

As Darby, Justin, and Naz are swept off on a series of midnight adventures via Mr. Usher's carnival rides, they discover they're capable of more than they ever imagined. With each challenge, their confidence in communicating – and in themselves – grows. Meanwhile, they scheme to persuade the Usher family to revive the carnival. But when Darby’s bunkmates trick her into starring in the camp talent show, her budding confidence falters. Can she risk being less than perfect by performing in the show and speaking up to Mr. Usher's resistant son? If not, she'll put the carnival in danger and sabotage her most important quest: to believe in herself, stutter and all.


Laura Segal Stegman is a Los Angeles-based arts publicist and author whose middle grade debut novel, Summer of L.U.C.K., will be published in September 2020 by INtense Publications, followed by a sequel in 2021. Her non-fiction credits include collaboration on the travel book Only in New York, and her feature stories have appeared in Los Angeles Times and Westways Magazine, among others.

Web site:
Twitter: @LauraStegman
Summer of L.U.C.K. on Goodreads:
Thanks very much for including me on Operation Awesome, one of my favorite sites!

Summer of L.U.C.K. by Laura Stegman

1 comment:

Dena Pawling said...

I'm late to the party as usual, but howdy!

>>Many of Summer of L.U.C.K.'s first few versions were written by hand.

This is major dedication! And congrats on your three-book deal!