When people learn that Laura Laing has a degree in mathematics, it’s always the same reaction: Widening eyes change to a puzzled look and then, “But aren’t you a writer?” Laura contends that writing great non-fiction is not much different from proving a(b + c) = ab + ac, except she gets to use words that are a whole lot more fun.
After receiving her undergraduate degree from James Madison University, Laura taught high school math for four years in a rural town in eastern Virginia. But teaching meant being “on” for at least eight hours a day, and—introvert that she is—Laura was exhausted.
She left the classroom in favor of marketing, public relations, volunteer coordination and development. Stints with Tidewater AIDS Crisis Taskforce (as the development director and volunteer coordinator) and Virginia Stage Company (as marketing associate) honed her marketing and public relations writing skills.
After a five-month stint as an online advertising sales person, Laura worked for six years as a content producer/editor for the country’s first online version of a regional, daily newspaper. The Virginian-Pilot launched Pilotonline.com in 1993 and its sister site HamptonRoads.com in 2000. During her tenure, Laura developed many innovative projects for the Web sites, including local schools content and closing announcements, and sections for military, business and newcomer content. She became as adept with building databases as she is in constructing a snappy service article. Her most memorable day on the job was the harrowing experience of covering the news on 9/11.
Laura began freelancing while she was a content producer/editor. She has written for regional and national publications, including Parade, Parents, Pregnancy, and Southwest Airline’s Spirit magazine. To gain more experience as a print publications writer, she spent a year as a reporter for the regional, weekly business publication Inside Business in Norfolk, Virginia, where she covered banking & finance, technology, government contracting and law.
In 2005, Laura began freelancing without a net. She and her family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where Laura stowed her blue business suits in the back of her closet, opened up a home office and began accepting corporate clients as well as magazine and newspaper jobs. Her cover story for City Paper, about the oldest gay bar in Charm City, earned her a 2008 A.D. Emmart Award honorable mention. In the spring of 2006, her career came full circle, when she took her first curriculum-writing gig.
For Laura, writing is teaching. And in July 2011, she published her first book, Math for Grownups. A funny, accessible and practical book, it’s designed for readers who are afraid of math or think there is something called the math gene — and they don’t have it. In it, she dispels math myths and takes readers on a tour of basic, applied math with examples from the Land of Oz to a truck dealership in Nevada.