Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Author Speaks: Laura Eckroat

This week we talk with my friend and children's author Laura Eckroat.

Laura Eckroat was born and raised in Whiting, Indiana. She has lived in Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, and now lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She is married to Steven and has a daughter named Ashley. She also has a one-year old Anatolian Shepherd named Muffin, who was rescued by the Eckroats when she was 12 weeks old.

Laura is certified in Special Education and is an elementary school teacher. She teaches and volunteers at the Fort Worth Nature Center using her books to teach children about the beauty and wonder of nature; her workshops also teach children how to start a Science journal. She previously was a human resources manager and the general manager of an educational toy store. She is also a Chicago Bears football fan -- and will always be. Even though Dallas Cowboy Fans try to convert her!

1. Tell us how The Life of Bud,  your first book, came to be.
 After 10 years of working on this book, Bud was born. For the longest time, the name of the book was Bud, The Littlest Leaf. I could never figure out how to finish the book or figure out really what I wanted to say to pull it together. After going through a tough time after my dad passed away, the book came into full focus and I could see the whole book in my head. I worked for about four hours to finish the book. The book follows Bud, who is the bud of an oak tree, through his life, through the seasons. He sees amazing things, makes wonderful memories, is hurt and scared. This book is a great way to teach young readers about the life cycle and can also be used to gently talk to children and adults about losing a loved one.

2. A Simpler Time was your second book. What prompted you to write it?
I am a lover of all things Nature. I loved sharing that passion with my daughter Ashley when she was little. This book was my way of reliving those memories and sharing with other moms and children, that there is more to life than hanging out in front of the TV or your computer! Go out and see the beauty that is right out your door!

3. Your third and fourth books feature Muffin, a rescue dog. Tell us HER story.
I am a DOG person and will never be without one!  It was a SUPER HOT day in August of 2010. We decided it was time to add to our family. Steven scoured the internet looking at many shelter dogs. After a couple hours he called me over to the computer and said, "Look at this cutie!"

My heart melted when I saw her face and her name--Muffin. She was at a rescue facility in Springtown, Texas. Steven called the facility and learned they usually didn't see people on Sunday, but made an exception. When we got there, we saw a puppy that definitely needed a home. She was 12 weeks old and had already been in four homes. She barely weighed eight pounds, and most of her fur was missing from the back half of her body (she was malnourished and dehydrated). As I held her, she melted into my arms. When I did set her down for a moment, she walked over to the gate on the deck and get looking from me to the gate handle as if saying, "Let's go!"  Well ... she came home with us and we nursed her back to health!

When I came home, my Facebook post was Went Out To Get a Donut (I waited for a few moments) and then posted Came Home With a Muffin -- and posted her picture. I knew it had to be a book. While writing it, I started singing the lyrics, and the rest is history.

Muffin and I love going to rescue dog events and donate as much as we can to help other pups find their FURever homes.

4. Why do you write children's books?
I have stories in me that I want to share with children. I love reading to them and helping them realize reading and writing is a lot of fun.

5. You travel to many places to promote your books. How do you plan this?
I spend a lot of time marketing my books. I am honored when librarians, schools, book fairs, and author fairs invite me to come and share my passion. I truly don't plan events. When they are presented to me, I make them work!

6. What's a favorite story from one of your travels?
Hmm ... I have many interesting things happen: My first book signing had over 200 people attend and was celebrated on my daughter's 16th birthday; I was the grand marshal of my hometown's Easter Parade and also did a whole school book reading at my Elementary School and the principal that was there when I attended came back to introduce me; I've met the nephew of Andy Warhol; I was asked to give the commencement speech at my high school. But my very favorite thing is to see children's eyes light up as I read to them ... it truly never gets old!

7. How do you write? Computer, pencil, tablet? And what is your writing process?
I start a story in a journal. I have many story starts that probably will never become a book. When I do "feel" a book coming on, I begin writing in the journal, and there is a rough story. I then need COMPLETE silence and go into AUTHOR mode and type the story into the computer and if I can't think of a word or just the right word, I leave a blank or fill in the spot with several word choices, but I don't want to lose the momentum. I type and type until the entire book is out. I then do not look at it again for a few days. Once I'm refreshed, I'll look at the book again and then re work it.

Since the Muffin books are songs, I do write down words, but I also use QuickVoice on my iPhone and sing the tune and the words. It helps me with the cadence and rhythm. I also do NOT want to lose the tune that I've come up with, so it helps capture that as well.

8. From idea to completed book, how long does it take you?
The Life of Bud took 10 years! But Went Out To Get a Donut - Came Home With a Muffin took about a week.

A Simpler Time and What's In The Corner? A Muffin "Tail" each took a few months.

9. What's your current project?
I have a "sequel" to The Life of Bud in the works called Daisy, and I am working on Where's Muffin's Shadow? A Muffin "Tail" (a working title).

10. How can we learn more about you and your events?
There are many ways to find me: My website is The Books of Laura Eckroat, and I'm on Facebook at Life of Bud and Went Out To Get a Donut. People can email me HERE. And my books are available at, Barnes and Noble, and Tate Publishing.

I am available for school visits, literacy nights, library visits, book clubs, and more.

I am a kindergarten teacher, also, and I believe every child should have access to new and wonderful books. I am raising money to purchase books from up and coming authors and donating the books to the KIDS NEED TO READ organization. You can contribute HERE! Please help this worthy cause.

Thanks for interviewing me!

Thanks, Laura, for participating! Read other Author Speaks at 51313 Harbor Street.

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