Questions From Aspiring Writers of All Ages

Do you have an agent?

I do. My agent is the wonderful Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary. Karen and I just started working together in 2011. We look forward to a long and successful relationship. I did sell all 11 of my current picture books by myself. But in today's publishing world, I feel it's important to have an agent who supports you and cheers you on. Karen is a fabulous cheerleader.

Do you write every day?

I fear not. The truth is I'm not that disciplined and I am so easily distracted. There is so very much in life to explore.

But when I do start writing a story, I try to write some every day. It may be an hour or five hours, but it's important to write something daily. If you don't connect with your characters each day, how will you ever get to know them?

What's the best part of writing?

I love getting to know my characters. And I love those magical moments when the writing flows from me. It doesn't happen often, but it's grand when it does.

What's the hardest thing about writing?

The Plot..... Hmmm. I can't think of anything more to say.

Where do you write?

In my home office. A few years ago, my husband gave me the gift of a second window in my office. Now my desk faces my beautiful perennial garden. From here I can see the top of the trees in my orchard, birds dipping in the birdbath, deer walking past, hummingbirds flitting, and many more magical things.

Do you listen to music when you write?

It seems like such a good idea, doesn't it? But I don't. I get distracted by the music and end up singing or dancing rather than writing. Instead, I listen to "the sound of silence."

If I did listen to music, it would be something like Mozart or the soundtrack of The King's Speech.

If I listened to music with words, it would most likely be James Taylor or something from musical theatre. I love songs like "There's A Fine, Fine Line" from Avenue Q, "For Good" from The Wiz, "Hold On" from The Secret Garden, or "Morning Glow" from Pippin. My daughter has loved performing in musical theatre since she was a child, so I've enjoyed lots of shows. Musical theatre music almost always inspires me and touches my heart.

I have an idea for a children's book. How do I get it published?

This question is usually asked by adults. Remember, the idea is the easy part. Taking that idea and developing it into a wonderful story that many will enjoy is the difficult part.

Here are some thoughts about how to get started:

Professional writing is a mixture of art and business. Just as in any other profession, one must study and work hard in order to succeed. The three things I did at the beginning of my career that I think helped were:

  1. I read almost every book I found in the library about writing in general and writing for children, specifically. I visited bookstores to see what was currently being published for children. This research work is vital. It always amazes me the number of people who hope to publish a children's story, but have never done this homework. Go to a bookstore and find the Children's Book Section. Bookstores are good because they'll have the most current and the most popular books out. Most writers visit bookstores, but if you're like me you usually don't read the books CLOSELY, you just scan them. We can learn by scanning, but we can learn more by reading closely. Take an afternoon or an evening and settle yourself in. As you read a story ask yourself questions. Why is this part so funny? Why don't I like this character? Why did the author begin with one particular scene and not another? In this way we're teaching ourselves.
  2. I joined SCBWI. Anyone who tells me they have a wonderful idea for a children's book and asks how they can get it published, I direct to SCBWI and their website, www.scbwi.org. SCBWI has most of the answers, including lists of publishers and insights on how not to submit a manuscript as well as how to do it the right way.
  3. I started, with another writer, a writer's support group. You can read one another's stories and help each other make them better.

There is a great deal of information online about publishers, editors, and writing. Just start googling.

Remember, patience and perseverance are key.

Good luck, future authors!

 

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