Friday, July 29, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing: Sometimes My Writing Makes Me Sick

"What makes a story is how well it manages to connect with the reader, the visceral effect it has."
--Len Wein

His Royal Catness demonstrates the visceral effect
"Visceral |ˈvis(ə)rəl| adjective of or relating to the viscera : the visceral nervous system. • relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect." (New Oxford American Dictionary)

If you follow me on Twitter , you may have noticed a pattern over the past couple of weeks. I write early in the morning and I spend a lot of time on Twitter early in the morning. Especially of late. Why is that? Twitter offers me a much-needed therapeutic break when my story makes me sick.

As you may already know, my current work-in-progress is set in Occupied Paris and recently, as the tension mounts, I'm experiencing visceral reactions while writing, like shaky hands, chest and stomach pain, and shortness of breath. Crazy, right? In order to cope, I leave that world and connect with my cheery morning tweeps who often make me laugh and recover my sense of well-being. 

So what about you? Does your writing ever make you sick? If so, what do you do to cope? I'm not talking about the "inner critic" who makes you feel like throwing your laptop out the window, but those physical reactions that make you step away from your project and breathe into a brown paper bag. Or pop over to Twitter. . .

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Author Interview--Eileen Cook

CONTACT ME WITH YOUR MAILING ADDRESS: yascribe.angelina (at)gmail(dot)com 

Loved this book!

Love the typewriter.

Eileen is one of those authors who's like potato chips for me. After reading one of her books, I had to go out and eat read the rest. I challenge you to try to read just one. . .

And if you're in the Seattle area this Sunday, you should go meet her and a slew of other fabulous YA authors at Third Place Books. But don't tell me you went, because I'm already heartbroken that I can't be there. 

In the meantime, enjoy some thoughts from Eileen:

On Writing:
Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
I love the first draft because there are so many things about the story still to be discovered.  Just in the same way that you can only read a book for the first time once, there is something about the first draft when everything is new.
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
I love writing for kids/teens because everything matters so much. You haven’t had a chance to grow a thick skin from experience. When you fall in love it feels like no one has ever loved that way before, when you’re betrayed it feels like the world really is ending.
Favorite word? 
One word that describes your path to publication:
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and a:
Cupcake taster.
On Life:
If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:
Wow. I wish this would really work. I’d have lots of things I’d take care of with a snap. If I can only fix one thing then I would make sure every child had access to a loving home with people in their lives to encourage them to reach for their dreams.
One question I wish I had a definitive answer to:
Why people feel the need to judge other people.
Best thing about being a child:
Believing that magic is still possible. I love that kids still believe in Santa and fairies. Life might be better if we all believed in a little bit of magic.
Worst thing about being a child:
Believing that the thing under the bed really could get you.
Best thing about being a teenager:
It is the time in your life when anything is possible- you could move to Europe and start a band. You could go to college or travel. You could get married and have a family or you could live a wild single life. There are oceans of choices.
Worst thing about being a teenager:
You aren’t in control of so many things. If your parents move, you have to move. If you parents decide they want to be vegetarian then the only food in your house is tofu hotdogs.
Most memorable teen moment:
My summer after my senior year I went to a party and at some point my best friend and I split off from the group and were sitting by the water talking about how everything was about to change. In that moment I knew that even though I had no real idea what I was going to do with my life I wanted to make sure she would always be my best friend. 
One sentence you’d like to share with your teen self:
Don’t worry so much, things will work out.
A quote I live by:
Carpe Diem- Seize the Day.  Life is too short to watch from the sidelines.
My dream vacation:
A house by the ocean, a stack of books to read, long discussions into the night with my husband, and my dogs lounging around ready to bark a warning if there is some type of squirrel revolution.
In My Perfect World…
Everyone would get books and have a day off to read at least once a week. 
There would be an abundance of dog bellies to rub and cupcakes.
No one would be deprived of imagination.
Every child would have at least one great friend.
No one would ever belittle someone else.
Chocolate would be free for everyone.

Eileen's Website
Eileen's Blog

Monday, July 25, 2011

Partner on the Path--Amber West

This lovely writer lived with two of my closest friends, but somehow I never got to meet her. How did that happen? Now she lives on the other side of the country and I've finally been able to get to know her--online. Though most of my writing partners write for children, Amber doesn't. But she has a child. So that counts, right? 
What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
I have to admit that I was really surprised at what a great resource Twitter is when you know how to use it.  Following certain hashtags (#amwriting, #MyWANA) has led me to some great blogs and people.  I've found writers that I can share and commiserate with, and the sense of community is nice, especially on those days when I never leave the house.
Youtube is great, too, when I need to get a character's voice in my head.  Literally.  I sometimes use actors to "play" my characters.  Having their cadence and intonation in my ear helps with making dialogue real.
What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
Recently, another writer I met through an online writing group and my blog read my WIP.  She is only the second person I have ever let read my work.  I was so incredibly nervous and even told her, "Don't give me a crit.  I'm not ready for that."
She read it and gave me a crit on the first 2500 words anyway.  It helped me work a few things out, and the positive feedback she gave me had me floating for the entire weekend.  I shared my work, which meant overcoming a big fear, and had positive results.  Doesn't get much more encouraging than that.
Favorite children’s books? Authors?
My favorite author was probably Roald Dahl.  When I "grew up" and taught at an elementary school, I read Matilda to my second graders and they loved it.  A couple of them bought it at the school book fair.  I was excited to pass that love on.
My mom used to buy the "Serendipity" books when I was little.  They are beautifully illustrated and written, and always have a moral. I have an emotional attachment to those.
I also love Mo Willems.  I owned the Pigeon books before I was even considering a child.
What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
It's funny, I haven't hit that wall yet.  Probably because I haven't entered the world of trying to get my novel published.  I love the writing part.  Even when a scene isn't completely free flowing, I enjoy figuring it out.  The writing itself is what keeps me going. 
Ask me again when I'm getting rejection letters.  I'll probably be in the kitchen baking and drinking wine.
If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
Wow.  That one is really difficult.  My two very best friends in the world live in Seattle.  My family lives here in Florida.  If I could transport all those people with me wherever I choose, then I don't know that it would matter much. 
Let's say the Seychelles.  Also, in this dream, I'm living off the never ending inheritance from some mystery dead relative.
Describe your fantasy writing space?
A loft.  Lots of windows, comfy couches.  Natural light, but not too bright.  Music playing softly. Coffee shop downstairs.
In real life, the closest I've come was the apartment I lived in with the aforementioned best friends.  Unfortunately, life was crazy and I didn't have time to take advantage of the writing space when I had it.
What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
The fear that comes with saying "I am a writer".  The fear that people will hear that and laugh.  The fear that when it comes time to publish, someone will tell me to give it up.
Lots of fear.
Fear, and a toddler.
What one word describes your writing process?
Exciting.  (I never know what's going to happen next!)
Best writing advice you’ve been given?
Just write.
There is so much advice out there, sometimes too much.  You end up sitting in front of your notebook or computer obsessing about which rule you just broke or are about to break.  There comes a moment when you have to allow yourself to just write.
What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
I've always enjoyed stories that I feel connected to.  If I can't see myself, or someone I care about in the main character, even a good plot can lose me.  I know that isn't the case for every one, but for me, I have to feel that the characters are people you connect to. 
Even if you hate them, you hate them enough to want to see what will happen to them.
How will you celebrate the publication of your first book? 
It will probably involve a vlog of me doing a really embarrassing celebratory dance.  The people who have supported me along the way deserve to be amused.  Even if it costs me a little dignity.
But seriously, it will probably involve a really good restaurant.
Here's where you can find Amber: 
Amber's also a member of SheWrites, a lovely community of writers, where she's currently serving as a volunteer coordinator. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing: Are Your Ready For a Crash?

"Back up my hard drive? How do I put it in reverse?"
~Author Unknown

Up until four months ago, I wrote from a vintage Mac G4 Clamshell who I affectionately called Bertie. Expecting a crash at any given moment, DH reminded me to back her up daily. Death came to Bertie by way of a black screen whilst I was on vacation working on a revision deadline. 
When I finally stopped crying, we dashed down to the nearest Best Buy, plopped down the credit card, and within a few hours my shiny white MacBook, Bertie the Second, had me back in action.
Lured into a  false sense of security, I lowered my back up vigilance.
Never, never, never forget to back up.
The good news? DH had set my books folder up with Dropbox, so I didn't lose one word. But the hard drive hadn't been backed up since May 28th. Oops.
This means I lost everything on my desktop, which is where I kept all my projects in folders. 
And I lost three months of stuff in my mailboxes.
Which is another lesson learned--not all mail servers are created equal.
Comcast stores mail on server for one week.
Gmail stores everything forever. 
So what's my point?
Are you ready
For the crash?
I hope so.
Any thoughts? Tips? Suggestions? Horror stories?
Please share.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Author Interview and Book Giveaway--Jo Knowles and PEARL

For those of you who have not yet gotten acquainted with Jo Knowles, it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to this beautiful hearted author and her work. Not wanting to embarrass this humble woman, I will refrain from gushing out the hundred plus reasons why I believe everyone should know her and read her books. 
One of you will receive a copy of her latest novel, PEARL, just for leaving a comment below and saying hello to Jo. Winner announced here next Wednesday, July 27th. 

You might also want to check out her other young adult novels: JUMPING OFF SWINGS and LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL.
  In the meantime, please enjoy a few words from Jo.

On Writing:

Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
I want to say typing “The End” but.. I don’t actually ever type that! I think I love writing the very first lines best. There’s something about the white screen waiting to be filled. It still feels so promising at the beginning. It’s the middle I have to slog through.
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
Hanging out with them and talking about writing and books we love.
Favorite word?
Sashay? I don’t know if it’s my favorite word, but I smile when I read it. It makes me want to sashay across the room. Only I wouldn’t know how.
One word that describes your path to publication:
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and a:
Cooking show personality. But old school, like Jacques Pepin. And it would have to be vegetarian.
On Life:
If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:
World peace
One question I wish I had a definitive answer to:
Best thing about being a child:
Playing with abandon
Worst thing about being a child:
Being forced to eat stuff you don’t like, go places you don’t want to go, and hang out with people you don’t always want to hang out with.
Best thing about being a teenager:
Living at home
Worst thing about being a teenager:
Living at home
Most memorable teen moment:
Getting my driver’s license.
A quote I live by:
Wherever you go, go with all your heart.  ~Confucius
My  dream vacation:
European vacation with my family. 
In My Perfect World…
Everyone would get love and hope at least once a week.
There would be an abundance of love and hope. 
No one would be deprived of love.
Every child would have food, shelter, safety, good books—and love.
No one would ever be mistreated.
College education would be free for everyone.

Jo's Website 
Jo's Blog

Monday, July 18, 2011

Partner on the Path: Mary Ann Scott

Mary Ann has been a faithful partner on my path to publication. We met while participating in her awesomeness, Denise Jaden's, March Madness earlier this year. I feel privileged to be sharing the journey together.

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
When I first dove into writing for kids, I nabbed a copy of The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market and started hunting around online for more information.  Very quickly I found Verla Kay’s website and have been hooked on the Blue Boards ever since.  I also joined the SCBWI and started attending conferences whenever I could afford to.
I think I have to say the most helpful resource I’ve found has been other writers.  People who write for kids are very different than most authors, so much nurturing and inspiration and less of the competition you might see elsewhere.  It’s an awesome group to party with!
What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
The most encouraging thing...comes in two parts.  Earning a full scholarship to the Chautauqua Writer’s Workshop and working with the amazing Patricia Lee Gauch, who requested the MS we worked on, had me walking on air for the next year.  And then I signed with my awesome agent, Elana Roth with the Caren Johnson Literary Agency, with that same manuscript.  She is tremendous, a really hands-on agent who has truly supported my work and given me the sort of encouragment that keeps me pumped about writing.
Favorite children’s books? Authors?
Do I really have to pick favorite books?  From my own youth, Judy Blume’s books, Beverly Cleary’s books, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond were favorites, but along the way I discovered 1984, I Am the Cheese, and The Illustrated Man.  More recently, I’ve latched onto books like A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle Trilogy), and of course the Harry Potter series.  But one of my true, could not live without favorites is Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.
What do you do when you feel like giving up?
When I feel like giving up, a lot of red wine and chocolate doesn’t hurt.  Seriously, it’s a voice inside my head that just refuses to leave.  It keeps telling me stories and crashing my self-pity parties.  I’ve been there, believe me.  Feeling defeated and frustrated.  But I know a lot of writers say it, and it’s just the simple truth:  I simply can’t not write.
If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
If I could live anywhere on earth, it would have to a small horse farm in Ireland. I spent a year in Maynooth when I was in college and I’ve never recovered.
Describe your fantasy writing space?
My fantasy writing space is my own space, not a desk in the corner of the playroom. A real room with a door I can close and windows with a few tree branches in view. It’s far away from traffic noise and smog, but close enough to a real city that I have some connection to civilization when I need it. Non-stop tea and bickies (0 calories of course) and room to get up, stretch, and act out a scene or two without arousing the attentions of unwelcome neighbors who fear some murder or some other heinous crime is taking place. I do tend to live my writing on occasion.  After 10 years, I almost have my wish.
What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Several obstacles have cropped up over the years—poverty, a child with special needs, the death of my mother and all that followed, and an unexpected exile to the armpit of the South.
What one word describes your writing process?
What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?
Children’s writers are clever and nurturing and self-effacing. They can take themselves seriously without taking themselves too seriously.  So many are parents or teachers who “get” what kids need and they love that connection. They just can’t help but keep that vibe going with fellow writers.  They may be angsty or wide-eyed and goofy, but they are not cynical.
Best writing advice you’ve been given?
Don’t be afraid to “go big.”
What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
When I am working on a project, I sink my emotions in deep.  I can’t help but ask, “how does/would she feel about that?” or “why would she react that way?” or “what do I want the reader to feel?”  Anyone who knows me in person knows I truly where my emotions on my sleeve, right out there for all to see.  I try to take that and figure out what my characters would do when they don’t want everyone to see how they feel. How would they show it.
How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
It depends on how big the book deal is!  My kids are expecting a trip to Disney World, but I better get it in gear or they’ll be graduating from college before we ever rub paws with Mickey...


Friday, July 15, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing: Deep POV

"No man understands a deep book until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents."
- Ezra Pound
Tasty snack on this week's Plot Walk--Salmon Berries
What is deep POV? This is a question I'll be exploring for the next millennium. For those of you who'd like a quicker response look here or here or here.
My preferred POV to write is first person, present tense. But my current project lends itself better to third. So I've been thinking about the best example of a YA novel written in deep POV that I've ever read--Amy Efaw's AFTER. Look inside here.
Do you have any thoughts on deep POV? Any YA books written in deep POV that you would recommend? 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Story Continues. . .

We interrupt our regular Author Interview program this Wednesday to bring you an episode in Deana Barnhart's Blogfest--Week 2: The Story Chain. Though I'm not in the market for an agent, this looked like a lot of fun so I jumped on board. Then I got my assignment and I panicked. Introduce a subplot? Really? Can I do this? At least I've got some salacious "s" words to incorporate--suffocate, sell, and shut up. On that note, here goes nothing. Read what came before over at Callie Kingston's

"Wait. Did you say my parents drowned in Istanbul?"

"Wait. Did you say my parents drowned in Istanbul?"

Tony wiped his hand over his face. "Did I say Istanbul?"

Dio's parents were not in Turkey. They'd gone to Prague to sell a rare thunder egg. "Why are you lying?" Dio asked. 

"Shut up and get in the car," Sandy said, motioning to Tony. 

Dio stared at their faces. How had she not noticed? The mole under Uncle Tony's right eye had moved to the left and the dimple in Sandy's chin had disappeared. 

Who were these people? 

Dio turned to run, but the man posing as Uncle Tony grabbed her, putting his hand over her mouth and nose. "If you don't settle down, you'll suffocate and die, and you'll never see your parents again."

Read what comes next at my buddy, JRo's

Monday, July 11, 2011

Partner on the Path--Jaye Robin Brown

For all of my new followers, I am so happy to meet you and look forward to sharing the writing journey with you.

Mondays are for introducing fellow writers who are hiking on the arduous path to publication.

JRo, as I know her, has been one of my online writing buddies since we met on Twitter, a great place to connect with writers and share encouragement.

Another special partner, plugging away on the path with me, it's my pleasure to introduce this delightful children's writer:

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path? 
Verla Kay’s Blue Boards first and foremost – it’s like a magic genie in a bottle – ask a question and answers appear.  Critique partners (*waves*). Blog surfing – lots of great links, posts, and insights out there. Books on craft – my most recent read, which I drug my feet on starting because it looked dry, was Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King. Tremendously helpful for revisions! And as I’ve moved to getting serious about the industry, Twitter. It’s great to read blurbs by editors and agents. It’s also a great way to connect into this community of writers. In fact I think that’s how I met you!
What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way? 
Awesome critique partners who tell me I’m not just blowing smoke, that maybe I do have something after all.
Favorite children’s books? Authors?
Oh Lord – that’s a tough question. How do you narrow it down?
I’ll go with things I’ve read lately – and keep in mind I’m a library girl and our library isn’t super current.
For Middle Grade, I loved the Penderwicks, Kira-Kira, and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Also Indigo’s Star, a follow-up to Saffy’s Angel. I just finished Alabama Moon by Watt Key and having grown up in Mobile, Alabama – I adored that book. I loved Moon’s voice. It made me want to go mud-slinging and shoot bottles with a machine gun (neither of which I ever wanted to do before seeing it through Moon’s eyes).
For Young Adult of what I’ve read this year, I loved Graceling, The Hunger Games Trilogy, Ship Breaker, and Flash Burnout. It’s funny, I didn’t think dystopian would be my thing, but I think what draws me to it is the overarching theme of finding humanity in tough situations. I appreciate that life lesson. And I love tough girls like Katsa in Graceling. I’m writing a tough girl now. 
What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
Dogged persistence and unfettered optimism. I’ve been called a Pollyanna more than once in my life.  And those little nagging people in my head who just won’t shut up until I get them down on hard drive.
If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be? 
Where I am now, plunked down mid-way between the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail is pretty darn good, but I wouldn’t mind being about ten minutes closer to the grocery store. But you know, as long as I have books, coffee, good friends, and good dogs, you can put me just about anywhere.
Describe your fantasy writing space?
Free of dog hair. (See above – note the conundrum)
What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Uh, kids, a full-time job teaching art, a partner who calls me (lovingly) “Book Face.” In two words – finding balance.
What one word describes your writing process?
What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?
Why people like you, of course! This is the most amazingly supportive and giving community a writer could wish for.
Best writing advice you’ve been given? 
Don’t get your feelings hurt over critiques – see it as an opportunity to improve. And know your own story. Critique partners bring their own stuff to the table – learn to pluck the good from the “this has nothing to do with the story I’m telling.”
What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
I outline major plot points. I know my ending.  I know my MC’s arc. I do a tremendous amount of imaginary mind work, as well as drawing images, graphs, and charts of character inter-connectedness before I start writing. I know my characters pretty well at that point, just little things reveal themselves as I go. I have to ask myself “What Would MC Do?” constantly and “How does this Advance the Plot?”  But overall my process is pretty intuitive once I have my path laid out concretely.

Get to know Jaye Robin Brown better here:

Twitter: @HeyMsJRo 

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Most Important Thing I Learned This Week: Impulsivity Is Not a Virtue

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” --Vincent van Gogh

No one ever told me I was impulsive. 
But earlier this week this truth hit me right between the eyes.
So I've spent the past few days reflecting on how impulsivity has adversely affected my writing life.

On impulse, I have tweeted things before thinking.
On impulse, I queried agents before my manuscript was ready. 
On impulse, I have commented on blogs without proofing what I wrote.
On impulse, I have posted things on my own blog that I later had to remove. 
On impulse, I sent my manuscript to editors (who requested it) before it was ready.
On impulse, I have sent emails that had to be followed up with an "oops" and an apology. 

Do you see a pattern here? Most of my impulsive behavior has been the direct result of a trigger finger on the send button. What is the cure? Self-control. A deep breath. Step away from the computer. Vincent knew what he was talking about--great things are NOT done by impulse.

Anyone else struggle with this issue? Can impulsivity bring any positive things to the writer's palette? 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Page Turner

First off, I'd like to give a warm welcome to all of you lovely people who have started following this blog in the past year. Some of you I know, others I've not yet gotten acquainted with. Thank you for taking the time to visit. I hope you are all benefiting in one way or another. I look forward to knowing you better.

 Deana Barnhart is hosting a blast of a blogfest this month for all sorts of writerly types, especially for those preparing to cross that bridge from unagented to agented. Even though I crossed that bridge earlier this year, I thought the party looked like fun, so I decided to pop in for the kickoff this week.

This party's getting started with a writing question that you all are supposed to help me answer. So here is the question that is burning in my mind right now:

 What is it about a story that keeps you turning the pages until you get to the last one even though it's 4 am and you need to be at work in less than 3 hours?

Not that anything like this has ever happened to any of you, right? I'm still gathering my ideas on this question and will share them at the end of the day. What are your thoughts? What makes a page turner?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Partner on the Path--Stephanie Jefferson

 I met Stephanie over in the Writers for Young Adults group at SheWritesShe graciously volunteered to share her writing journey. What gems of wisdom does this partner on the path have to give us? Let's find out:

What sort of books do you write?
I write young adult, but I have to confess they’re more tween than young adult. I write some middle grade, too.  The Tween/YA are mostly about girl-power or stories about fitting into your own skin, learning how to create and enjoy who you are rather than who others think you should be. The middle grade, on the other hand, is most often boy focused. Those stories are often mysteries or overcoming.

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
I am a voracious reader. Most of what I learned about writing is from my favorite authors. Then there’s The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and Self-editing for fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
That’s really a long story, but I’ll try to make it as brief as I can. When I first decided to try my hand at writing, I started with picture books. Because the text is a limited word count I thought I could crank out one a month. So I got started. Honestly, they were TERRIBLE! Every possible thing to do wrong, I did. Then I tried my hand at middle grade. That was much better. Where I had no voice for picture book, middle grade was promising. From there I moved to YA and there I found my voice. I started attending workshops and conferences with SCBWI and submitting my work for critique. The first was an agents’ day where I was told I had voice—the ever elusive voice and I had it! After that, three different editors of substantial houses told my writing is very good. Well that cinched it right then and there I am a writer.

Favorite children’s books? Authors?
Oh gosh, that’s tough to say. It changes all the time. Right now the titles are Zahrah the Windseeker; House of Scorpion; Test; Bar Code Tattoo, Feed, Double Check
As you can see, I’m a huge fan of science fiction, character driven, action stories. I also like imaginative and different fantasy.
The authors are Joan Bauer, Nancy Farmer, M. T. Anderson, Suzanne Weyn, William Sleater, Nancy Werlin, Malcolm Rose, and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu 

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
The only thing that keeps me going is I have to remind myself why I started writing in the first place and that’s because I love story. I love reading it, watching it, telling it, and writing it. The only reason I seek publication is to be able to tell ‘story’ to more people.
My writing has received some really great feedback from professionals in the publishing industry. I pull out those letters every time I receive a “No Thank You”. I hate the word rejection and refuse to use it in connection with my writing. In truth in this industry its meaning is nebulous. Oftentimes it is not a reflection on the writing, it’s more based on what they believe they can sell a lot of, too many books of that type out there, or not sure how to classify a book that determines a publisher’s/agent’s choice. After all publishing is a business that is focused on profit. As writers, we often forget this because we’re focused of the art of story

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
The planet? That’s hard. There are so many places I have visited and there are still so many more to explore. I guess it really doesn’t matter a ton as long as I can have access to books to read, movies to watch, and a computer so I can write.

Describe your fantasy writing space?
My fantasy writing place…someplace on the edge of a forest with views of water, sky, trees and animals. As long as the view is interesting and I have the tools to write, it really doesn’t matter.
What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
I haven’t had to overcome all that much. I was able to retire early because of a firefighter husband who pays the bills. That and family and friends that are very supportive of my following through on a dream. But thinking about it, I would say my greatest obstacle was changing my thinking to an understanding that publishing is about business rather than art.

What one word describes your writing process?

What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers’ community?
The children’s writers’ community is very open and accepting. There is not only no criticism of where my imagination takes me, they encourage me to go farther.

Best writing advice you’ve been given?
The best advice given me was to read as much as I can and to write as often as I can.

What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
I always keep in mind who the main character is, what I admire about her/him, what their weaknesses are and then write the story around those to build their strengths.

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
I am throwing myself a huge barbeque and inviting as many of the people who helped me as I can. Then I will take a trip to some obscure place and dream up another story!

Social media presence? Please share your links
I can be found on Facebook as Stephanie Jefferson. I also have a fan page under the same name. On Twitter I’m StephaniePQW. My blog is and my website is

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing I Learned This Week: Sometimes People Lie

"Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom." 
~Thomas Jefferson

Hugging an adolescent Fir. I'm an Oregon native. Truth.

People lie. I've known that sorry truth for most of my life, but what I learned this week is that sometimes people lie accidentally. And now it's confession time.

Last week in that post about being a planter, I said I didn't outline, right? That wasn't entirely true.

Before we took off on this Monday's Plot Walk and Tree Hugging Adventure, I felt lost in my WIP, baffled as to where the story needed to go. Then I remembered a very important document I'd prepared before I started this draft. Eureka!

Waiting patiently in my WIP folder was one of my favorite writing tools, a beat sheet from Blake Snyder's fabulous screenwriting manual, SAVE THE CAT. Not exactly an outline, but a helpful plotting device with 15 structure points designed to help a writer keep the reader resonating with the story. Using this tool, writers are encouraged to start with a memorable opening image and end, logically, with a final image that's the opposite of the opening.

So beginning this week, it's time for Fun and Games in Occupied Paris.

Put on your dancing shoes!

What about you? Do you have any favorite craft-related books or tips?