Please join me in welcoming authors Rosemary Tran Lauer and Scott Beller to bibliobetty reviews. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to interview them. Read on and enter for a chance to win a copy of the inspiring book, Beggars or Angels: How a Single Mother Triumphed Over War, Welfare and Cancer to Become a Successful Philanthropist!
1 .Are you going to expand Devotion to Children to cover other states besides Virginia?
Yes, expansion nationwide is definitely a key part of my vision for the future of Devotion to Children. I want to see the plans we have for advancing our cause move well beyond the boundaries of the Washington, D.C./Virginia/Maryland metro area and into other communities in desperate need of affordable, quality child care. In 20 years, I’d love to see that Devotion to Children has continued to blossom into a positive force for improving the quality of care for and lives of children here and around the globe.
2. You mentioned briefly in your book that you would like to become a life coach, have you made any plans to pursue that?
Yes, in fact, I’ve already made it happen. I regularly consult with several life-coaching clients in the Washington, D.C. area. After working so hard to get by when I first arrived in the U.S., it’s interesting that I am, once again, working three jobs! But obviously, for very different reasons now, and for an even greater good.
3. What is your morning routine?
Rosemary: Besides being an author, I am also a commercial real estate agent, and founder of the non-profit Devotion To Children, so my normal workday is very busy. I usually get up, do some exercise and meditate. Then I shower, get dressed, and start working. Since I am also a life coach, some days start with a coaching session. Afterwards, I go to my real estate office. I don’t often have time for breakfast or lunch due to all my meetings, and the day usually ends with a Devotion Board Meeting, networking event, or other business function. Although my days are always over-booked, I will continue to do what I do as long as it creates a positive impact on society, especially the children.
Scott: Usually, getting up with (or at least awakened by) my girls, who are now 6 and 4. After I get one to the bus stop and the other to preschool, I get 3 hours to work in my own breakfast, any errands, writing work and any other chores/house maintenance. Then it’s back to preschool for pickup – usually in a mad rush and leaving a handful of things incomplete.
4. What was the last book you finished reading?
Rosemary: I am reading They Can Kill You But They Can’t Eat You by Dawn Steel.
Scott: I recently finished Death by Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson and What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell – I’m usually reading a few books at once, which is why it often takes me longer to finish them. I’m still working on BJ Novak’s short story collection One More Thing.
5. What is your favorite movie?
Rosemary: My favorites are Gone with the Wind and Life of Pi.
Scott: Too hard to pick just one, but these will give an idea of my eclectic taste: It’s A Wonderful Life, The Great Escape, Pulp Fiction, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Shawn of the Dead, Monsters Inc., The Nightmare Before Christmas.
6. Do you have time for any hobbies and if so what are they?
Rosemary: I don’t really have time for hobbies since my work takes up most of my days. However, if I have any time to spare, I enjoy reading, dancing and cooking.
Scott: After hours and sometimes on weekends – when I’m not hanging out with my girls– I like biking, reading, movies and fantasy baseball/football. I recently volunteered to serve as a first-time film festival judge for Shriekfest 2014. Very excited about that!
7. Some “This or That” questions:
- Tea or Coffee? Tea
- Call or text? Call
- Sneakers or sandals? Sandals
- Apples or Oranges? Apples
- Cats or Dogs? None, since I raised 7 kids. I am happy to be free!
- Spring or Summer? Spring
- Tea or Coffee? Coffee
- Call or text? Text – I am a writer, after all
- Sneakers or sandals? Sneakers (but usually in the form of hiking or all-terrain athletic shoes)
- Apples or Oranges? Apples
- Cats or Dogs? Cats when they’re mine, Dogs when they’re someone else’s
- Spring or Summer? Spring (baseball season!)
8. What is your favorite meal?
Rosemary: Since my husband and I have to go to a lot of business functions in the evening, a home-cooked meal would be my favorite. I don’t mind cooking because we usually eat very simple, but I just barely have the time to do so.
Scott: Anything with good seafood, preferably crab cakes… finished with a chocolate soufflé.
9. Are you planning on writing any more books?
Rosemary: I haven’t decided yet.
Scott: Yes, I’d like to develop a novel. Maybe historical fiction or some kind of caper set in an interesting place and time. Probably with a humorous edge. Maybe move forward with that later this fall… when both my girls will be in school, full-time. After that, I’d like to try my hand at a children’s book… or series. Possibly YA fiction. We’ll see 🙂
10. What was the time frame for writing Beggars or Angels?
Scott and I first met in early 2009. We began the interview process later that August. The first 12 months of the project was devoted to research, outlining and planning the story/chapters. Our interviews often ran 2-3 hours – and we had dozens of them over the course the three years it took to complete the book’s outline and full manuscript. The first draft of the manuscript was – appropriately – finished the day before Thanksgiving 2012. We let it rest for the holidays and engaged our publisher and professional editor in early 2013. We finally published in August 2013.
11. How did you come up with the title for your book?
My co-author Scott Beller and I came up with the title Beggars or Angels together. We wanted a title that could have multiple meanings and would get people to think about the bigger issues raised in the book: poverty, dignity, prejudice, fundraising, entrepreneurship, spirituality and compassion. Throughout the book and my daily life, I’ve referred to my “angels” – the many people who’ve helped me at key moments and in immeasurable ways. It’s been my experience that help often comes from people you’d least expect. In the book, I write about a particular encounter with a beggar boy on the streets of Plei Ku, Vietnam, who reappears unexpectedly and gives me reason to see him in a much different light. We thought this experience provided a thread that tied in many of the book’s themes in a unique and memorable way. At different points in our lives, we play the role of “beggar” (someone humbled into asking for help) and “angel” (the one in a position to offer support). We are both. So you never know when or if that person you helped (or didn’t) in the past will be in a position to help you when you need it most. So, Scott and I played with these ideas, symbols and words. First we tried Beggars AND Angels, but later changed it to Beggars OR Angels, with a question mark implied. We thought that little tweak turned an interesting title into a more engaging, thought-provoking one.
12. What was the hardest part about writing your book?
Rosemary: I think the most difficult thing was just finding time to read the drafts Scott provided. Reviewing business documents or the volume of email I get each day both with my real estate job and my other full-time job with Devotion to Children is challenging enough. But working through an entire chapter’s worth of text can be difficult for me, especially since I’m not a professional writer. I relied a lot on Scott to provide draft copy that was pretty polished to begin with. Working patiently and methodically, we got through it, chapter by chapter.
Scott: My youngest was born the week after we began the background interviews for the book. So I was squeezing a lot of my work-at-home consulting business and book development activity around taking care of my 2-year-old and infant daughters. While it was challenging taking on all that at once, the experience gave me an even greater appreciation for Rosemary’s accomplishments under such extreme circumstances when emigrating to the U.S. In the end, I think that empathy was invaluable to the project. I don’t know that I would have been as effective in telling Rosemary’s story had I not had that small insight into her early parenting world.