Coffee and Conversation with Tara Lazar

I am so excited that Tara Lazar is in the coffeehouse with us today.  Who better to get us inspired for the MD/DE/WV Spring Conference than the creator of PiBoIdMo?

First off, what’s your favorite coffeehouse beverage?

Anything but coffee.

And, your favorite snack?

You cannot ask a foodie this question! We have far too many favorite foods to narrow it down. But you happened to catch me after eating Manchego cheese and a pear, so that will be my answer for now. Unless you have a white-chocolate covered pretzel? Then I’ll take that instead. With a side of honey-roasted cashews. Ooh, a nice ripe avocado with a pinch of salt is great, too. Did I forget to mention peppadews stuffed with goat cheese? Half-sour pickles?


What was your favorite book as a child?


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

And now, what is your favorite book as an adult?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Some things never change.

What advice for beginning writers do you wish you would have followed?

Don’t write the first story idea that pops into your head. Who said it’s a good idea? Cultivate ideas then narrow them down to the very best ones. I wasted a lot of time revising stories with mediocre concepts that would never get bought, no matter how good the writing. That’s something I wish I would have known—good writing isn’t enough. You must have a killer concept.

What is your favorite writing how-to book, technique, or website that have helped you improve your craft or provided inspiration?

Honestly, there’s nothing better than attending SCBWI events. They were superior learning tools for me—more hands-on than any book or website. I don’t think I would be published today if I hadn’t attended multiple first-page sessions, mentoring events and conferences.

Where’s your favorite place to work?

In bed. In my jammies, of course.


How were you inspired to write your current or upcoming release?

I have had this wonderful picture book concept for many years, but every time I sit down to write it, it comes out all wrong. I was rewriting this story once again when I felt it was veering badly astray. I needed to change gears. I felt stale.

I looked over at my nightstand and saw a post-it note onto which I had scribbled, “a character who doesn’t belong in the story you’re writing”. That’s when the idea for I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK hit me. What if an alien crash-lands into the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? I stopped what I had been writing and began BEAR. It flowed; it felt good. My editor at Aladdin bought it and it releases this September.

Oh, and that other story? Still haven’t gotten it right yet.

What is your favorite line(s) from this book?

“Whoa! Please do not tickle my zoopfoop, sir!”

If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?

Exactly what I’m doing. Although I’m not necessarily making a living yet. Thankfully the husband is.

You’ve been locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read! Your glasses are fine, (whew,) so what’s the first book you crack open?

Any short story anthology.

For one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased author you want. Who do you pick?

Roald Dahl. Except I understand he was rather mercurial and cantankerous, so I hope he wouldn’t be too mad at me for bothering him.

You magically find a $100 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?

On an adorable dress or funky, one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.

If you could go back in time and make changes to any of your published books, would you?  If so, which one and why?

Well, as of now, there’s only one out, and I like it just the way it is.

What is your favorite quote?

“I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you could sum up your best advice for new writers in only four words, what would they be?

Read. Write. Revise. Repeat.

Do you . . .

Outline or wing it?

Wing it.

Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped?

Zip it.

Sell by proposal or completed draft?

Complete it.

Prefer writing rough drafts or editing?

It’s a tie.

Dread marketing/blogging or love it?

Love it.

Read Kindle or traditional books?

Nook it.

And finally, what’s your favorite:
Time to work?

When kids aren’t home.

Music to listen to while writing?


Writing tool?

My Mac laptop.

Pair of shoes?

Red Keen Mary Janes.

Guiltiest pleasure?

Video games.

Line from a movie?

“You were.” (From Forrest Gump, after Jenny said, “I wish I could have been there with you.” Personally, it reminds me that good writing doesn’t have to be fancy. Simple is powerful when the timing is right.)

Thanks for participating!

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4 Responses to Coffee and Conversation with Tara Lazar

  1. I loved this interview. Can’t wait to see Tara!

  2. Tricia says:

    I’m jealous you got to interview Tara! Her blog is so great (like this one).

  3. Sue Poduska says:

    Yum. Coffee with two of my favorite people.

  4. Great advice from Tara, as always.

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