Artist and Writer
A self-taught artist, Laurie Parker has been using the medium of collage since she was a child. This involves cutting and gluing various papers to create her artwork. She has been self-employed since 1992 as an artist. Her career began with her creating a whimsical line of paper and epoxy pins which she sold at arts/crafts festivals and galleries. She was admitted as a member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi in 1995.
That same year, at the age of thirty-two, she combined her art skills with her ability to write in metered rhyme, something she has also done since she was a child. She wrote and illustrated her first book, Everywhere in Mississippi, which was released by Quail Ridge Press in September 1996. Over 12,000 copies were sold in the first three months—and this was pre-Internet. Although it is referred to as a “children’s book” by most, Parker says she always intended Everywhere in Mississippi to be for all ages.
Given the success of her debut book, Parker continued to release “children’s” books, first with Quail Ridge Press, and since 2003 by self-publishing. She also continues to produce her pins and other handmade creations such as ornaments and decoupage canvases. Unlike the books, the handmade items are not available in stores. She sells those strictly at art shows, festivals, home shows, and holiday markets such as Handworks Market in Jackson.
Born in Bruce, Mississippi, Parker moved to Starkville before turning one, and is a lifelong resident of the university town. Parker was Valedictorian of the Starkville High School Class of 1981, “Miss Starkville High School,” and a 1985 Hall of Fame Graduate of Mississippi State University, where she received an B.S. Degree in Elementary Education. She taught only four years before realizing that field was NOT for her! She attended MSU a second time to study engineering. Although she maintained a 4.0 in that discipline for three years, she again realized she was going down the wrong path for herself. She finally went with her TRUE CALLING—ART! She is very quick to state that her brief teaching career has no connection whatsoever to her writing “children’s books.” The books are solely a function of her being blessed with two talents—that of writing in rhyme and creating art with scissors, paper and glue!
In 2013, as a way to celebrate turning fifty, Laurie made a major switch—from poetry to prose—and released her first “big person book”—The Matchstick Cross. Parker states that she wanted to do a novel because writing is something she finds absolutely engaging AND because she wanted to prove to herself she could do it—simply because she had never before considered going in that direction. She felt so in her element writing her first “big person book” that she says she regrets not doing it years earlier. So to make up for lost time, she released two more novels in as many years—Yonder Breaks the Morning (2014) and Hush, Swing, Hush (2015). She says she finds writing stories in prose very satisfying because it allows her, strangely enough, to reconnect with the poet in herself!
In 2014, Parker’s work was recognized by the Mississippi State Committee of the National Museum for Women in the Arts. Her fourth novel (and sixteenth book), Trespassers Talking, was released in October 2016.
Laurie resides in Starkville with her cat Wordsworth.
BOOKS BY LAURIE PARKER
Everywhere in Mississippi (Quail Ridge Press, 1996)
All Over Alabama (Quail Ridge Press, 1997)
Mississippi Alphabet (Quail Ridge Press, 1998)
Texas Alphabet (Quail Ridge Press, 2000)
Louisiana Alphabet (Quail Ridge Press, 2001)
The Turtle Saver (Quail Ridge Press, 2002)
It Really Said Christmas (Laurie Parker, 2003)
Mad for Maroon (Laurie Parker, 2004)
Tales of the Good Life (Laurie Parker, 2005)
A for Angels (Parker, 2007; QRP re-release 2010)
The Sweet Dreams Book (Laurie Parker, 2009)
Garden Alphabet (Laurie Parker, 2011)
Everywhere in Mississippi (Laurie Parker, 2012)
The Matchstick Cross (Yonder Dove, 2013)
Yonder Breaks the Morning (Yonder Dove, 2014)
Hush, Swing, Hush (Yonder Dove, 2015)
Trespassers Talking (Yonder Dove, 2016)
Laurie and Wordsworth in 2011
It Really Said Christmas, first released in 2003, was Parker’s seventh book, but her first self-published title.