Friday, July 6, 2012

Friendspiration Friday: Carol Higgins Lawrence

Today I am kicking off a new Friday series in which YOU get a chance to guest blog about someone who has inspired you in the writing community!  I look forward to hearing from many of you. 

I am also going to use this series as an opportunity to introduce you to members of my Critique Group in NYC.  They are a group of fabulous people and I think you should know who they are. 

Carol Higgins Lawrence joined my Critique Group in January 2012.  She has been a wonderful addition to the group, always providing insightful, carefully thought out critiques of others' manuscripts.  Her own works are so sweet and poignant, brilliantly capturing tender moments between children and parents.  She is both a delight to read and a delight to know.

Please welcome Carol Higgins Lawrence.

What do you do in real life? 
I am an adult literacy instructor. I have 2 part-time “paid” jobs at the moment. I teach computer literacy for a non-profit organization and I teach English as a Second Language at college. I live in Brooklyn with my husband, our 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 5 years old and I used to write stories and give them to my father. He’d smile, read my story aloud, pay me a quarter and congratulate me every single time.

How often to do you write?  Where?  What time of day?
Honestly, it varies and I’ve stopped beating myself up about that. My current work and family schedules allow me to commit to writing at least 2 times a week. I write on Thursdays and Fridays in the morning from 9:00-12:00 and I am 100% focused for those 6 hours a week. I’m always working stuff out in my head; some thought, idea, story or inspiration so that I show up prepared to produce for my weekly writing time. If I am inspired or have time to do more writing in a particular week, then I consider it gravy! I write using my laptop on the couch or in my bed. I write in the mid-mornings because I have my best physical and mental energy at that time of day. I’ve recently realized that it is pointless, unproductive and downright frustrating for me to try to write in the evenings or on weekends when my energy is low and while I’m trying my best to be an active and caring wife and mother. I’m accepting of the fact that as my life changes so too will my writing schedules.
What was your favorite story/book as a child?  and why?

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. The Grinch was such an interesting character. I was captivated by the illustrations and language and I’m a sucker for a Christmas story. I also liked the Mr. Men series by Roger Hargreaves. I loved the simplicity of each character and the straight forward storytelling.
…I know you asked for one, but I couldn’t resist :)

What kind of stories do you like to write? 
I like to write stories about the small tender moments experienced between family members. I like to conjure the sights, sounds and feelings that remind me of my childhood. My hope is always that readers will connect emotionally with my stories. Also, as a writer of color, it is important to me that I represent the experience of children of color. So often, we do not see ourselves and family life normalized in different forms of media, including children’s books. I like writing books for children of all ages. A few years ago, I was writing more YA stuff. My poem, “Patriarchy”, was published in a YA poetry collection entitled Black Girl Talk by Sister Vision Press.  For now, my focus is more on picture books. Many of the stories I’m working on currently are inspired by members of my family and my 2 children.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer, a photographer, a writer, a hairdresser, a writer, an interior decorator, a guest writer on the Oprah Winfrey Show, a writer.

If you could go back in time and tell your 8 year old self one thing, what would it be?
Always focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses. In fact, if you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else, forget about your weaknesses entirely.

 What is the greatest piece of writing advice you have ever received?
                Write what you know.

Thank you, Carol! 

Do YOU have a Friendspiration you would like to introduce us to on a future Friday? Please send an email to and we will make that happen.


  1. This was a GREAT post! I love the "If you're not hurting yourself or anyone else, forget about your weaknesses entirely." Such wise words. I, too, appreciate picture books representing characters of color. My children need to see children like them represented in books!

    I also love the story of your dad giving you a quarter for your stories as a kid. Something I'll have to start with the little ones!

    Marcie, this is going to be a great series! Thanks for starting it.

  2. What a fun idea. It's brilliant and gives everyone a chance to say thanks to a supporter/friend, and introduce others to their strengths! Nice to read about Carol...she seems to have her priorities straight.

  3. Wonderful interview Marcie and Carol. I am fortunate to be in Marcies' crit group with Carol and adore her writing. She creates an intimate, elegant, private world which is never over-stated and always warms the heart. I;d like to go back in time with Marcie and Carol so I could know them both when they were 8 years old.

    Nice piece.

  4. Keep 'em coming Marcie! This is a wonderful addition to your already wonderful blog posts. And what fun to see 'Sammy' without his strolla! Pauletta

  5. What a wonderful post Marcie and Carol! I really enjoyed getting to know Carol a little. Carol - I love your practical approach to writing, and that story about your dad reading and, smiling, and paying you a quarter is terrific. I also like your choice of writing subject - I lean the same direction :)

  6. Fantastic idea for a Friday addition, Marcie!

    The yarn of Dad paying you a quarter for each story you'd written when a child is priceless :~D
    I'm a few days a week writer also. Now that I've stopped beating myself up for not writing everyday, I feel more inspired and excited for those "butt-to-chair" days. Ideas always loom and where need be and if able, I sneak in some writing time. But I too have my set days. And when you show up, amazing things unfold!!
    Love your answer to what you would tell your 8 year old self!

  7. Thanks to all for your super kind comments! Thank you Marcie for being so generous. Can’t wait to get to know more writers in the series :) …And thanks Daddy xo.

  8. Thanks Carol and Marcie for an interesting interview. What a wonderful way to get to know Carol. I am another lucky member of Marcie's critique group. I enjoy reading Carol's "tender moment" stories and always appreciate her helpful critique suggestions.

  9. Good series idea and questions Marcie. So nice to meet you Carol! I think I would have liked a quarter for a story as a kid, or a cookie! The Grinch is one of my favorites too.

  10. Wonderful to meet you, Carol! Marcie, your series is off to a great start! Thank you.

  11. Great series idea, and a WONDERFUL interview to kick it off. Carol was clearly born to be a writer, ...and her dad was clearly born to be a publisher!! Where is he now? I want him to give me some quarters - I'm drowning in manuscripts over here!

  12. Love the idea, Marcie, of highlighting those of us who “slog” it out in crit groups…in this case, our group! I use the word “slog" to describe the work we do. It's all about the process, maybe more than the end result.
    On the writer’s journey, it’s a major bonus, if that group is supportive, honest and all better writers than you.
    Thanks Carol, for sharing your view on reflecting children of color in stories and tapping into sights, smells and sounds from your childhood. All good stuff:)

  13. What a great interview. It's also nice to "see" Carol, since I've worked with her, but had no idea what she looks like. Plus those kids are super adorable!!!

  14. What an inspiring article. I think it's awesome that at age 8 you knew what you wanted to be and got the support. Keep focused and I'm sure you'll get a call from Oprah. You are inspirational.