1. Q: What encouragement helped you along the way?
A: It can be pretty tough being a writer. There's a lot of rejection, and most rejection is for subjective reasons, so it can be fairly difficult to discern who you are as a writer, where you fit in, and what you are willing to change, or not change, in order to fit into the marketplace. I have to admit, if it weren't for three things in my life, I would not have made it even this far in my career. The first thing was the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (called the SCBWI). They hold conferences, seminars, and social events for writers and illustrators in the children's book industry, and often invite literary agents and editors as speakers. The information and the friends I have made at those events has been invaluable! The second thing that encouraged me, happened at one of those events. I submitted a manuscript into the writing contest, and won second place. This was a very big moment for me, personally, as it affirmed in my mind that I wasn't just some delusional wanna-be, but I had real talent that just needed polishing. The third thing that happened, is from the SCBWI, I made friends with some very talented (and local) writers who I am able to meet with, commiserate with, and trade manuscripts with - and they gave me incredible notes that I was able to use to rewrite and grow my work, and encouraged me to submit my work to literary agents, which is how I came to sign with Bree Ogden at D4EO Literary Agency. So, to sum up, I'd say those little successes are what keeps me going. Plus, I must admit, even if I wasn't succeeding at all, I'd still write, just simply because I'm addicted to it. And as far as addictions go, writing is the least destructive in my life.
2. Q: What are your favorite titles today and why?
A: My favorite books as of now are: "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak, "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Settlefield, and "The Distant Hours" by Kate Morton. I go through phases where I read a lot of one particular genre, and I'm just starting a Sci-Fi binge, so these titles might change and adjust in the next few months. But, these three will always be on my list of "great reads" just because the writing is so superb, the characters are so vivid, and the structure of the story is so complex, they made me green with writer envy.
3. Q: What would you say to beginner writers?
A: I'd say they need to read, read, read, read, and practice, practice, practice. Write. Rewrite. Rewrite it again. Take classes. Quite a few of them from different teachers so you get different perspectives. And join a writers group and/or association. And don't stop writing. Keep writing, no matter what. Slow and steady wins the race.
4. Q: How long does it take for you to finish writing a book?
A: Depends on the book, and book length. "The Beast Call" took me only six months (total) to write and then revise, simply because it's a linear story structure, and it's only 110 pages long. "Shut Up" took me three years even though it's only 118 pages long - but that story was so emotionally taxing, I would work for three weeks, and take another few weeks off from writing just so I could come out of the black hole I had to live in, in order to tell Mary's story. It was depressing. I wrote a 300 page Social-Sci-Fi in about a year. I wish there was a pattern here, but there isn't. I'm all over the place. It'll be interesting to see how this changes if and when I'm actually given a deadline, all my titles have been written prior to publication, so I was able to write in my own timeline, without an editor anxiously awaiting a draft.
5. Q: Since when did you realize that writing books was your thing?
A: I started writing very young, as young as elementary school. I even won a few writing awards in High School and had a couple short stories published in the High School literary magazine. However, for some reason when I went to college I thought I was an actress. Turns out, I'm not a very good one - which took me about a year and a half to figure out - so on the advice of my then boyfriend, now husband, and my college guidance counselor, we determined my strength was writing, and I changed my major to playwriting. After college I worked odd jobs in Hollywood until I was able to sell a few scripts, mostly to children's television. Then, after having children of my own, I became interested in writing children's literature. Looking back now, I probably would have done things differently, but I also believe all things happen for a reason, so I can't second guess it.
6. Q: What makes you angry?
A: Ignorance. Bigotry. Irrational one-sided political views. Liars. Haters. All those things combined and you'll get me so furious I won't be able to think straight. I am a true believer in equality for ALL people, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, or race. If I hear arguments to the contrary, I get so frustrated I literally lose the capacity to speak. I wish I were far more articulate when angry, but sadly, I haven't mastered that life-skill quite yet. I hope to someday, because I'd love to get up on a soap box and tell a few people just what I think.
7. Q: What are your favorite children's books?
A: "The Book Thief," as I mentioned before, is technically published as a Young Adult novel, though I'd argue it shouldn't have been. I have a soft spot in my heart for "Dicey's Song," by Cynthia Voight, since it was the first book that made me cry, and I love, love, love, love the Harry Potter series. I'm a bit of a fan-geek. For vacation, I dragged my family to Harry Potter World in Florida. It was awesome!
8. Q: Would you send review copies to bloggers?
A: Absolutely! All they have to do is ask!
9. Q: What is your greatest weakness?
A: This is a loaded question. I could easily say: sweets are my greatest weakness, which is true - but only really scratches the surface of my many weaknesses. I'm terrible at small talk, I hate parties (HATE them!), I have little to no patience for my children (the poor dears), and I can be pretty moody at times. I tend to self-doubt very easily, I don't believe compliments, ever - and I can be a slob. But, mostly? Marshmallows. My greatest weakness is marshmallows. Especially roasted ones. There are some days I'd sell my left pinkie toe for a roasted marshmallow. *sigh*
10. Q: On rate 1-10, rate me as an interviewer (haha).