Interview by: Meg McAlarney
Have you ever met someone who no matter the situation always has a positive outlook life? Well if you haven't, you should get to know Hobbyist Laci Swann. I met Laci through the International Basketball World and she has been such a ray of light. We have never met in person, though I am hoping to this year since our husbands are now playing in the same league. Laci has a true gift with words and explains things through her writing with such ease and grace that it is easy to see why she has had such early success.
When I found out she was releasing a Children's Book, I was so excited for her and couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy. Her freshman release, Sloan Saves The Day: Sharing is Caring is exactly the type of book I want my son, James to be reading. The story is beautifully written, the illustrations are gorgeous and touches not only on the important concept of sharing but also the importance of diversity, that sadly is missing in most children's books. It's a book I look forward to reading over and over again with my son.
Laci earned a Master's of English at Florida State University and also holds a Master's in Publishing from George Washington University. She's married to husband, Isaiah and they have a beautiful, two year old daughter, Sloan. They reside in Florida during her husband's off season. She is currently living abroad in Cholet, France and is quite the seasoned traveler. Laci is gearing up to launch her own editing company Sharp Editorial this October after years of being a freelance editor and ghostwriter.
It was an easy choice selecting Laci as one of our featured Hobbyists, she is exactly the type of woman we love to promote. Her success, passion and drive are all things we can learn from.
What made you decide to write a Children’s Book? Writing a children’s book has actually been a dream of mine since middle school! Initially, I wanted to illustrate a children’s book… but I grew older, my love for writing, art, and expression grew, too, which transformed my dream from illustrating to writing! More importantly, we gave birth to Sloan two years ago, and I became acutely aware of the need for more children’s books involving diversity and education.
Can you describe the moment you saw the first illustrated copy of Sloan Saves the Day? My eyes welled up. Happy tears! Then, when I read the book to Sloan, she shouted, “Da da!” when she saw the first illustrated page of her dad. At that moment, I knew I did something right in the name of art and love.
What does this book mean to you? This book means change. This book means education. This book means acceptance. The pages of “Sharing is Caring” are more than illustrations and words; this is a forward-thinking, progressive text aimed to teach a valuable, childhood lesson while promoting acceptance through cultural differences. Each character in the book is designed specifically with posterity in mind – knowing no two children are the same, which is a beautiful thing! Diverse ethnicities and races must be shared and seen throughout the media in a positive light, books most certainly included, in order for our children to truly begin to understand the beautiful differences we each possess.
What was your biggest hurdle in writing this book? Time. I was foolishly confident my initial timeline would be easily meet. I was so wrong. When your name is on something as delicate as a children’s book, you want to make sure every detail is in place. Needless to say, deadlines were continually pushed back, but for all the right reasons.
Biggest challenges in writing a children's book? Promotion! Spreading the word. In the age of self-publishing, more and more books are hitting the market, which is great! Consequently, advertising to a wide audience is a lofty task.
What is your motivation for writing? Sloan, expression, and change. Everyone’s idea of art varies. The “Sloan Saves the Day” series is my vision, which I feel incredibly privileged to share, also serving as a major motivation to providing a loving, responsible text for children to engage in. I want my daughter, Sloan, and all children, to open books and not only see themselves on the pages but also see kids interacting with a rainbow of other children, too. All too often, society segregates – books, film, and other media included; The “Sloan Saves the Day” series aims to counter those practices and fill homes with a realistic, diverse outlook of children.
Do you plan on writing a series? Absolutely! The second book in the “Sloan Saves the Day” series will be released in winter 2016.
Do you see yourself writing something in another genre in the future? Absolutely! Recently, I started my own company, “Sharp Editorial,” which offers services such as ghostwriting, editorial development, and beyond. Ghostwriting for clients has uncovered a new passion within a variety of genres. You just may see a fiction or self-help book from me in the future.
Can you describe your perfect writing setting? Cozied up in a blanket on the couch, laptop on my lap, my daughter playing in the living room while my husband reads the news, with nothing but white noise in the background (the sound of cars driving by, preferably). Heaven!
If someone was looking to write a children’s book, what advice would you give them? Keep your intended audience in mind – the kids! I always ask myself, “Would you want to read this book if you were a child again?”
If you had to only pick one piece of advice for an aspiring writer, what would it be? Write about what you love. The topic will never be forced or phony. People have a distinct feel for energy, and they will certainly be able to sense a genuine manuscript versus strained words on a page.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why? My mom. She battled cancer with a smile on her face and an everlasting faith until the day she was called to Heaven. She was my angel on earth and now, my angel in Heaven.
As a mother, what is your biggest wish for your daughter? Happiness and health – two things I can’t buy for her, because if I could, I would. I want Sloan to feel free to be expressive, unique, and happy throughout life; sail her own sea, happily.
What is some advice you’d give to someone looking to achieve a life goal of their own? Nothing good comes easy. Keep trying! If you have to take a break to mentally recharge, fine, but don’t give up! Write down your plan. This may seem silly or a waste of time but having a tangible plan is a visual reminder of your goals and dreams. And never, ever let anyone tell you you’re incapable of achievement. You are not only capable but worthy!
When you aren’t writing what are some things you like to do? Spend time with my family, of course. Bake, travel, and learn more about photography. I’m a total amateur behind the lens of my Nikon, but I enjoy taking photos every chance I get. Sloan and I are taking a “mommy and me” trip to Ireland next week. I’m hoping to capture some great shots then!
Being that you live back and forth between the United States and Europe, what are some tips for finding balance in your life? Although I prefer to live without routine, life is often lived in heavy routine while overseas. I literally set the alarm on my phone to break up the day to remind myself to “stop and smell the roses.” I will take a break from learning time with Sloan or working on editorial projects to have fun – take Sloan to the park or a museum or bake something for my husband before he comes home from practice.
How has living overseas changed your view on life? Wow, where do I begin? The pace of life overseas is slower, in a wonderful way; experience far outweighs material possessions and there is a wonderful emphasis on relationships/family time. Living overseas makes me appreciate the life I have while loving the journey of learning about other cultures and their respective countries. I’ve developed an entirely new sense of wonder and empathy for the places we’ve lived and the people we have met.
You are a seasoned traveler, what is your best piece of advice for someone wanting to travel? Research your destination prior to your trip, especially if you are traveling with a child.
THE HOBBYIST TEN
- What is your favorite food? Just one?! Breakfast food.
- What is your biggest pet peeve? Arrogance.
- What is something you are afraid of? Bees and bridges.
- Besides Sloan Saves the Day, what is your favorite book? Recently, I read Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities. Awesome read. A new favorite, for sure.
- What is your guilty pleasure? Mint chocolate chip ice cream with extra chocolate chips. And an online shoe sale. My goodness.
- What’s your favorite movie? “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter is Dead.” “Home Alone 2” comes in a close second and “Beauty and the Beast” is my favorite cartoon movie. I could list so many more but I’ll stop there.
- If you could have dinner with three people who would they be and why? My mom. I miss her more than words could say. What I wouldn’t give to have another meal with her. She was always a blast to dine out with. She would order an appetizer, meal, and dessert – my kinda gal. Meryl Streep. She is wildly brilliant and charismatic, yet has this mystery about her. I’d love to pick her brain about life. Last, but certainly not least, Jesus. I wouldn’t ask Him any questions. I would just like to thank Him for saving my life.
- What is something that instantly puts you in a good mood? Hearing my husband belly laugh. Laughing one of those hearty, genuine laughs right from his gut. I can’t tell you how big this makes me smile. His entire presence puts me in a good mood.
- What are the top two things on your life’s bucket list? Grow my own veggie garden in hopes to feed the less fortunate. I recently watched a video of a woman whose garden was so fruitful, literally, she was able to feed thousands of people in North Carolina. That’s dope. Something else on my bucket list – ride in a hot balloon with my family in Cappadocia, Turkey.
- Favorite place you have ever lived or visited? Santorini, Greece. Summer ‘16. Pictures do this place no justice. Santorini is picturesque. Postcard perfect.