Inside the Author’s Studio with Leslie Nagel

Sketch of working little people with book.

1. What is your favorite word?  FINISHED!  Every author loves the feeling of completing a project, and hearing your editor say that SHE also considers the manuscript to be finished is a sensation second to none.

2. What is your least favorite word?  I take issue with the word CAN’T.  Girls can’t join our club, I can’t possibly complete this project on time, You can’t get anyone to publish your book, We can’t fix what’s wrong.  Saying CAN’T closes every door. Possibilities, hope, second chances, all of that is just shut down.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally? Being outdoors charges me up like nothing else. I love sleeping under the stars, eating out of doors, walking in all kinds of weather. If I hit a block in my writing, a stroll around the neighborhood never fails to shake something loose. And no matter how stressed I’m feeling, I can pull weeds for thirty minutes and turn my day around.

4. What turns you off?  Negative people just suck all the oxygen out of a room. If you’re having a bad time, keep it to yourself. Life is stressful enough without constantly pointing out what’s wrong. Count your blessings. Be grateful you had something to eat today, and someplace to sleep tonight.

5. What is your favorite curse word?  F***.  As a writer, I value its incredible flexibility. Here’s a little exercise I like to give my college English students on the first day:

  • (Adjective) I promise to read the ________ syllabus.
  • (Interjection) ________,  that was a tough pop-quiz!
  • (Verb – Past Participle Form) I would’ve been ________ if I hadn’t done the readings.
  • (Verb – Past Participle Form) If I forget to submit my assignment, I’ll be ________.
  • (Verb – Infinitive Form) I can ________ myself over by not reading the syllabus.
  • (Conjunction) I’m late for class; ________, I didn’t do my homework either.
  • (Adjective – Past Participle Form) Her grade is ________ if she misses more than five classes.
  • (Singular Noun) It may not seem like it to the teacher, but I really do give a ________.
  • (Verb – Infinitive Form) I solemnly promise not to ________ it up.
  • (Verb – Past Tense) Midterms let me know how badly I ________ up.
  • (Noun – Singular) That mother ________ skimped on his share of the group work.
  • (Quantifier) There are ________-all chances for extra credit in this class.
  • (Noun – Plural) The guy who gave me feedback during peer review clearly has no ________ to give.
  • (Adverb) My professor is ________ awesome.

Bonus Question: It’s un-________ -believable how helpful visiting my professor during office hours is.

6. What sound or noise do you love?  I love waking up to birdsong. The serviceberry tree outside our bedroom is tall enough now to have a few high branches right by our window. Cardinals and various wrens and sparrows are the best alarm clocks.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?  Ever hear two cats fighting at two am? There’s a sound to make your blood run cold.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Well, I’ve had several careers, and they’ve all had their moments. However, in college, I dabbled in radio DJ-ing for the tiny campus station for a short period. We lost funding, so that experience was cut short. I loved the music, the talking off the cuff, and all the tech. I even did a trivia contest and got to take listener calls. I think that would be a fun job (unless I got the 3-6 am show!).

9. What profession would you not like to do?  Anything that involves repetitive motion would make me crazy. Can you imagine working on an assembly line? I’d be screaming for the exits the first day.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  Faithful Servant, devoted Mother, loving Wife: Well Done. Well Done.

About the Author  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 


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