|Frequently Asked Questions...
• When did you become a writer?
• When was your first book published?
• Where do you get your ideas?
• Of all your books, which is your favorite?
• I enjoy writing. How can I get published?
When did you become a writer?
Probably the same time as you…around Kindergarten to grade one. It seems important to remember our writing history, that is, the writing we’ve done since we first tried to write. I think it plays a pretty huge role in terms of who we are as writers now. There was a class of grade 6/7’s that really helped me take off as a published writer. They lived such story-filled lives that I could not help writing down what they did. I began to read these stories to them. Eventually, it turned into “Band-Aids are for Wussies,” a title that never was published but has continued to circulate in several intermediate classes. I’m grateful for such a crew of characters.
When was your first book published?
In 2000/2001. I was teaching in the school gym when I got the news. My agent phoned the school. I grabbed the secretary and started dancing with her. The kids thought it was pretty funny until I explained the news.
Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas are such powerful things. There are times when they seep into my head like an evening fog, mysterious and stealth-like. Other times, they roar in like a jet plane. Most often, the characters within the story I am writing present the ideas to me – teasing possibilities for an ending, a beginning or problem. Some of the greatest generators of ideas are pictures, photos, or illustrations. You may have heard that “a picture is worth a thousand words”? It’s true. Images can help you create your characters and shape the setting of your book. Take a look at www.arthurslade.com. Art has some fantastic suggestions. Young writers have millions of ideas, amazing ideas, but do not take the time to develop them or turn them into stories. I hope you do! It is also worthwhile to check out authors’ websites as this is the number one question asked of writers.
Of all your books, which is your favorite?
Without a doubt my favorite story is which ever book I happen to be working on. I pour myself into every story and cannot but help caring the most about the world I am in.
I enjoy writing. How can I get published?
• One thing has stuck with me through all my writing years: perseverance.
• Perseverance + willingness to edit and improve
• Writing. The more you write the more you play with language. With play, comes experience and change, maturity. That sounded like Yoda.
• I found entering writing contests quite useful. Forced me to make a manuscript as tight as possible.
• Find someone who understands the language well… an English major, another writer, etc, and ask them to critique your work for language structure, not necessarily spelling. This ties in with the next point…
• Finding your writing voice: Read your favorite writers and listen to the rhythm, the flow of their language. Below, is a little except from one of my stories. I hunted for a paragraph or so that demonstrated a variety of sentence lengths:
Anger rose up in his throat. “Don’t you dare call me, mad!” He pounded his chest, “I am not crazy. My father is not crazy. And neither was my great, great grandfather!” The moment the words were out of his mouth he realized just how crazy they sounded.
“Argh!” he threw up his hands. Still fuming, he decided on a different approach. Without the sword he could throw her over his shoulder. But she was almost as tall as he was, although not as heavy. It would be tough, particularly if she fought him. He needed Skin and Bones!
Shaharazad watched him through thoughtful eyes. “I am honored that you are fond of me,” she said presently. “I appreciate your sentiments and can even forgive your rashness - if you agree to not get in my way.”
• Don’t Quit