Interview with Promising Beginnings Contest Winner: Dr. Laurel Shaler

One of the winners of my sixth annual Promising Beginnings Writing Contest is Dr. Laurel Shaler, for her nonfiction work Reclaiming Relationships. Laurel won a full scholarship to the 2018 SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference.

Dr. Shaler is an associate professor at Liberty University where she serves as the Director of the Master of Arts in Professional Counseling program. A licensed social worker and national certified counselor, Laurel’s passion is to help people find hope and healing through Jesus Christ. Her book Reclaiming Sanity: Hope and Healing for Trauma, Stress, and Overwhelming Life Events is available now, and her next book is scheduled to release in 2019. Laurel writes on the intersection of faith, culture, and emotional well-being. She and her sailor husband are the proud parents of a one-year-old daughter. You can learn more at

Here is the synopsis for Reclaiming Relationships:

Are you struggling with a broken relationship? Would you even know what a healthy relationship looked like if you saw one? Are you losing sleep over your relationships, haunted by let downs from the past, afraid others will repeat the same offenses? Do you struggle to communicate how you are feeling? Perhaps you feel misunderstood, shut down, or you get defensive?

If so, Reclaiming Relationships was written for you. Each chapter addresses a particular topic relating to our inability or ability to enjoy healthy relationships—with our spouses, parents, children, relatives, colleagues, friends, neighbors … with the primary focus on reclaiming whole, nurturing, loving, satisfying relationships. Regardless of your past, and even when others won’t participate in improving a messy relationship, you can learn to be your best you and feel better for having done so. 

I was fortunate enough to interview Laurel. I hope you enjoy this peek into her life and story as much as I did.

Tell us why you chose to enter the Promising Beginnings contest.

I learned about the contest via social media and decided to take a chance. I never dreamed I would be selected as a winner!

Why are you excited about attending the conference you won a scholarship to?

I have heard that SoCal is one of the best Christian writer’s conferences to attend, and I am excited to learn as much as I can while there.

What do you love most about being a writer?

I love the opportunity to share what God has placed on my heart. I also love the fact that I can delete and rewrite if a sentence (or paragraph or chapter) doesn’t really hit the nail on the head of what I am trying to say.

What inspired you to write?

I can truly say it was the Holy Spirit. I thought the Lord was calling me to only be a speaker, but He has opened up far more opportunities for me as a writer.

Share one of your most rewarding moments connected to your writing.

After my first book was published, someone asked me what was most meaningful about that to me. My answer was and is that I was able to share the gospel in a format that will last as long as the world does: through the written word.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I am a new mother, so I adore spending time with my daughter along with my husband and the rest of my family.

What interesting jobs have you had?

I am a former social worker for the Department of Veterans Affairs, where I served as a psychotherapist. Currently I am the director of the Master of Arts in Professional Counseling program at Liberty University.

What aspect of yourself and your life is most reflected in your writing?

I have been able to use a lot of my story—my journey—in my writing. Life-saving surgery at age 18, infertility, and adoption are just a few topics!

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?

Be patient. If the Lord calls you to write, look for every opportunity you can to write. And don’t give up! Allow Him to open the doors for you. Just be ready and willing to step through them.