Monday, October 24, 2011

Partner on the Path--Lora Rivera

Meet another fun, hard-working member of the #wipmadness gang:

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
I love Twitter, honestly. #wipmadness, #amwriting—they keep me going every month. I love the encouragement and kicks-in-butt I know my fellow writers are just dying to give. I love doing the same for them, too, because this energizes me. I’ve found several betas this way, too—mutual, of course. The blogosphere, for me, goes hand-in-hand with Twitter.

Books on craft include On Writing by Stephen King, Characters and Viewpoints by Orson Scott Card, and The Art of Fiction by John Gardner. Yeah, I picked that up in one especially good MFA workshop, so it’s pretty dense.

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
When I was a teen, my best friend’s grandpa who used to be the president of two large Florida newspapers and formerly taught at Missouri School of Journalism, read and critiqued my first complete novel. Y’all, this thing was 200K. And he did it with kindness and integrity. We wrote letters back and forth while I was in college—he offered to pay my way whenever I scraped to get by. He believed in me.

Favorite children’s books? Authors?
Chronicles of Narnia—I lived and breathed this series for years. I can quote you a whole chapter from The Silver Chair. Also, Scott O’Dells Island of the Blue Dolphins. More recently, I adored Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Plain Kate by Erin Bow, to name a few.

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
Running, writing friends who tell me I can do it, ice cream. Er. Well, and then pushing through despair until I forget it was there. Oh, and my brother, who’s an aspiring film maker living the dream out in LA—i.e. living gig to gig, hand to mouth. We shared a lot of world-making together as kids. He’s inspiring and brave.

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
I really can’t answer this question. The idea of living somewhere, of settling down, scares the bejeebies out of me. But I do have this dream of traveling to some place in far East Europe (or something), and living on a farm with a family I don’t know and can’t speak to because nobody for 40 miles around speaks English, and doing manual labor for room and board for 2 years. No laptop, no cell phone. Just sweat, my own thoughts, and the smell of living.

Describe your fantasy writing space?
Coffee shop with just the right amount of ambient noise. The perfect blueberry scone or zucchini muffin. The perfect cappuccino. Gorgeous wood paneling and bay windows with linen curtains. A light, chill breeze whenever the door tinkles open.

What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Parting ways with good friends who were also crutches. That’s the biggest.

What one word describes your writing process?

What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?
How amazingly kind, generous, truly well-meaning and outwardly non-competitive everyone is. I don’t have to ask twice for help, encouragements, challenges… I never imagined it’d be this way.

Best writing advice you’ve been given?
Go with your gut, but guts can be honed.

What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
From scene to scene: 1. What my MC wants or needs to have happen. 2. What my Antagonist wants or needs to have happen. And 3. The ending, the feel and weight of it in my mind. That trajectory.

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
Probably tears, squeals, excessive dancing & prancing, lots of phone calls.

Social media presence? Please share your links


  1. Great to get to know you better, Lora!

    "Go with your Guts" — I agree all the way. Unfortunately, my guts are all over the place right now. No, I'm not writing a serial killer book or anything, but I have too many gut impulses on this WIP and I have to sort through them and find the right direction. OY!

    Good luck on the path!

  2. Here's to excessive dancing and prancing. I think publication is a worthwhile reason to do just that.

    The thought about parting ways with crutch friends is very enlightening. Thank you.

  3. I'm so honored you asked me for the interview, Angelina! Thanks for posting it!

    Ghost Girl--I totally know that feeling! My gut kept wrenching me into other worlds until my WIP was starting to look more like an example of the quantum many worlds theory than a seamless story. Deeper down, my gut was telling me to cut and keep going with my first vision.

    Mieke--Thanks for reading! Parting ways with crutch friends is like severing third appendages. Hurts like hell, but feels SOOO good to finally just do it. My crit group gave me the courage (and intervention!) I needed.


  4. Lovely interview. And your brother sounds awesome. I wish I were that brave. I can't imagine the support your friends and family must be. You're so cool :) And Island of Blue Dolphins was one of my favs. I can't believe I didn't list that one. I love books like that. Thank you so much for sharing. Rock on :)

  5. What a great interview, Angelina and Lora! Angelina, this is such a nice feature.

    Lora, I love the story about your best friend's grandpa, and it's so cool about your brother! I'm happy to meet ya, and I wish you luck!

  6. Great interview! I love this series. It reminds us that we are important, dedicated writers even if we are not yet published. It's very inspirational.

  7. Hi Lora! How fun to read your interview - but you know, when you're on that farm in Eastern Europe it will be hard to find that perfect cappucino - *snork*

    I'd forgotten about ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS. Gosh, I loved that book so much.

    I can't wait to squeal with you when the book deal comes.

  8. Excellent interview!

    The Island of the Blue Dolphis is one of my favorite books in that genre. :)

    Great writing advice.

  9. Loved the interview.
    It's good to get that kind of support especially in the early years of writing.

  10. Settling down in one place used to freak me out as well. That's why I chose Cali! Thing always change here.

    Is that a swan from Carnival on her shoulder??? COOL!

  11. Thanks, all! Island of the Blue Dolphins inspired me, especially as a shy, quiet girl, to be brave against all odds.

    Wendy--You're too sweet. My brother IS awesome, by the way ;) I'm very excited for him as he pursues his film career, but I'm biting my nails for him too!

    Dawn--The "Grandpa Gus"-es of this world are so important! They're the grownups who inspire the kids out there to live their dreams and never give up.

    Laura--I agree. This series is truly inspired. A MYWANA of the blogosphere. We are not alone! And what we do is worth it.

    Jaye--Too true. Alas, my veinal craving for caffeine will have to sacrifice for my Eastern Europe gig. Oh, and I definitely want to squeal with you too!! Don't forget to bombard me with announcements about your book ;)

    Golden Eagle--Thank you!

    Lynda--Absolutely agree. The early years are critical. I aspire to give back in just the way "Grandpa Gus" supported me.

    Alleged Author--Good to know my phobia might go away someday. I think it freaks out my hubby ;) Re: Carnival swan -- You know it! My first fictional world was animated by flying, talking blanket corners. Eh, a little weird, I know....

  12. My dance card says "Excessive dancing and prancing with Lora" when you get published. Can't wait!! Great coffeeshop desciption. And I love the eastern european dream, except I want a laptop and many many books. Lovely interview!

  13. Wonderful interview. That is a great fantasy writing space. And I agree that the kidlit community is extremely supportive and kind.

  14. Loved reading your interview, Lora! On Writing, it's the bomb! Fabulous book on the craft.

  15. How awesome about your friend's grandpa -- wonderful to have someone who believes in you, especially when you're young & just starting out (but it's also awesome no matter how old we are, and how far along the path!).

    Thanks so much for the great interview! See you on twitter, wipmadness buddy.... :)

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