Archive for the ‘Freaky Friday’ Category




The 2016 New York SCBWI Winter Conference Recap Part 1

Filed under: Author Events, Book Signings, Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Freaky Friday, Publishing, Reading, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)


It’s here, it’s here–it’s finally HERE! The #NY16SCBWI Winter Conference. And while we froze our writer and illustrator parts off this year–you know we still had a blast. Right along with the arctic blast. Here’s the highlights of the weekend…

I was thrilled to be able to head down bright and early–very, very early…


…for The Professional Author’s Forum Intensive. For all you PAL members of the SCBWI, this was such a lovely addition to the weekend. You should absolutely look for more of these PAL events in the future.

We started off the day with the fabulous and hysterical Lin Oliver and the chance to introduce ourselves and state our questions and goals. It immediately cemented us into a workshop style, intimate group instead of an audience in a lecture.


Lin Oliver, SCBWI Executive Director


Half the room of the PAL Intensives

After the intros, we got down to business with the very informative Agent, Ruben Pfeffer talking about PUBLISHING WITH MULTIPLE HOUSES (INCLUDING WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR EDITOR LEAVES)

This was a very informative session, focusing on the reasons to publish or not publish with multiple houses. He hit upon the strategic, contractual, our preferences, economic need and circumstantial factors.


Agent, Ruben Pfeffer (Ruben Pfeffer Content, LLC)

Next up was the I always get nervous around him even though he gives me no reason to, but come on he was the editor for the Harry Potter books, Arthur Levine chatting with Lin Oliver about LONGEVITY; HOW TO SUSTAIN YOUR CAREER.


Arthur Levine, Publisher, Arthur A. Levine Books and Lin Oliver

Here are some of my favorite bits from the conversation…

*What is essential about people doesn’t change despite our fears about publishing.

*Produce a BODY OF WORK–stop flogging just one thing.

*Find contemporary analogies to your book AFTER you’ve written it.

*When we get sucked into our anxieties, we lose track of what stories we can write and who wants to read them.

The next fabulous collaborator for the Intensive was Martha Brockenbrough, author and SCBWI TEAM BLOG talking about DEVELOPING A SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM THAT’S APPROPRIATE FOR YOU.


I’m not kidding–I’d love to see Martha do a detailed, whole day intensive just on this topic alone. She is a wealth of information and there were more questions than time to hear all her answers.

Martha started off by reminding us of our tendency to believe that when it comes to social media–If we build it they will come…


That would be a NOPE.

But don’t worry, she gave everyone a wealth of advice on building relationships, finding your audience and focusing on platform, being positive, looking long term and being authentic. She was also able to compare and contrast FB, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Goodreads. And this was followed by tips on how to keep it all manageable. If you ever get a chance to take a workshop with Martha, I highly recommend you take advantage of it.

After a quick and yummy lunch break, we were back in the saddle again hit the iconic kid lit author, Jane Yolen–ISSUES IN BEING A MID-LIST WRITER.


Among a plethora of informative and inspirational information, Jane reminded us that as Mid-list authors, we could be writing three kinds of books…

  1. A Head Book-The book you’ve been thinking about because research or experience had made you curious.
  2. A Heart Book-You don’t know why you have to write it, but you just do. It’s about you, but it’s also about the kids too.
  3. A Pocketbook Book-You know you can sell it $

She also reminded us to write the best book you can and don’t forget to nudge yourself in the path of luck.

Next up, was BRANDING YOURSELF: CHALLENGES IN WRITING MULTIPLE GENRES AND CATEGORIES with Linda Pratt Agent, Wernick and Pratt Literary and Jacquelyn Mitchard Author and Editor-in-Chief of Merit Press.


Linda Pratt


Jacquelyn Mitchard (Deep End of the Ocean–Oprah’s Book Club)

Here are some of the highlights…

*YA is not a genre, it’s a category.

*Being Branded means that you’ve gotten to the point where readers will buy your book in any category or genre because it is recognizably YOU!

*There’s nothing you want more than to be a habit.

*If you wanted to be careful, you should have been a dental hygienist ROTFL!

Bonnie Bader was up next and I forgot to take her picture! What? But you don’t need to see her to benefit from her talk on SUPPLEMENTING YOUR INCOME. Bonnie gave us valuable information on Packaging, Work for Hire, License work and Ghost Writing. But you can see Bonnie sitting next to Arthur Levine during our Summary, Conclusion and Questions time. And of course they had to kick us out after 5pm because there was so much to discuss with the faculty of the day. It was an amazing group.



And I’ll leave Friday behind with this great reminder from Arthur Levine…

“Our job is not to start trends, it’s to write books.”

After lots of meet up hugs with friends, a large group of us heading for dinner at Grand Central’s Oyster Bar (picture to come when Zainab figures out how to send it LOL!) the typical behavior of Lobby Rats hanging out in the lobby and not enough sleep (I can’t help but talk to my roomie Jodi Moore for half the night) it’s time to OFFICIALLY kick off the conference.



This group is more than ready…

For Lin Oliver’s conference stats:

*1,151 Attendees

*337 Published authors and 815 pre-pubbed

*48 states were represented. Considering the weather in NY we excused Hawaii for ditching us. But we also decided that maybe the reason North Dakota was ditching us was that no one lived there. :o)

*19 Countries in attendance including the USA

*Our ranks included a micro biologist, coffee roaster, oil trader, ventriloquist and a psychic!



William immediately had us cracking up, telling the story of how he forgot why he’s picked that topic when he first agreed to be a conference speaker LOL! But he quickly found the original thread and sewed it all up for us.


*Books=Ice Cream Sandwiches–hard stuff on the outside and good stuff in the middle.

*When people put a book on an app or e-device they claim they are doing it because they want the story to be “interactive.” What the heck do these people think happens when you read a book? You interact with it *head thunk*–to call something interactive it has to be more than just reading it on a screen vs between a cover.

*On starting his own Multimedia company: “Don’t make anything crummy.”

*Strong and better realities of a start up: Having to tell new, young employees they had to pay taxes. LOL!

*I highly recommend winning an Oscar–it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my clothes.

Oscar Win – Moonbot Studios from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

*Doing THAT (see above video) with all those young kids–amazing!


And if you want to see something fantastic…check out the app IMAG-N-O-TRON:The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

But be sure to come back to this blog and keep reading because I’ve got a Panel Discussion up next. THE BIG PICTURE: CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING: NOW AND IN THE NEAR FUTURE.


MOD: Lin Oliver

MT: Megan Tingly–Executive Vice-President and Publisher, Little Brown Books for Young Readers

AP: Andrea Pappenheimer–Senior Vice-President, Director of Sales/Associate Publisher HarperCollins Publishers

ML: Mallory LoehrVice-President, Publishing Director, Random House/Golden/Doubleday Books for Young Readers

JF: Jean FeiwelSenior Vice-President and Director, Feiwel and Friends/Macmillian Children’s Publishing Group

JA: Jon AndersonPresident and Publisher, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

I hate to tell you this–but this was such a good session that I listened without taking as many notes as I should have. I apologize but I’m pretty sure Team Blog will have some excellent tweets and recaps for you.

Then it was time for the day’s first break-out session or workshop. There were so many great sessions to choose from, but I picked CREATING TEEN CHARACTERS with Martha Brockenbrough and Rainbow Rowell.



For this session I pulled up some rug in order to stretch my legs. Here were some of my favorite take-aways…

*Art inspires art

*I didn’t experience the events that happened in my books, but music got me to those places.

*It’s fiction, you get to make it up. (Oh, wait–Dragons ARE fake!)

In order to balance out my recap posts, I’m going to save the rest of the conference for your Thursday reading pleasure. While you wait, you can get a good laugh at all of us eating picnic style in the lobby.


And remember–if you’re there at next year’s conference–Debbi Ohi will share her cookie with you. She couldn’t get anyone to split it with her!!! If she’d only showed up BEFORE I ate all that chocolate. *sigh*


See you on Thursday with the #NY16SCBWI Conference Recap Part 2! While your waiting, tell me what session was your favorite if you were there. Or which one you would have loved to attend.

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Freaky Friday Daddy Party Weekend Plus

Filed under: Conferences, Family, Freaky Friday, Pondering, SCBWI

It’s almost that time of year again…

The kids have been sick for weeks and the dog has wanted me to throw the ball one too many times. The laundry has piled up to the rafters and the pizza take-out place knows MY VOICE over the phone. “Hey, Kim!”

And for my hubby, it’s the season where traveling has become monotonous, the boys are begging to do manly things with their Dad and the dog wants to lick the hell out of him. They all need to dog pile while eating all the things I never allow as they watch movies I wouldn’t permit.

It’s been a long winter and we both need a change, so in a couple days, it’s the bi-annual Freaky Friday event where we trade places. It’s the hard core kick off to my weekend at the NY SCBWI Conference.

Now, I say change places very loosely because I’m well aware that getting on a train before sunrise one or two days a year doesn’t make me an actual commuter. But it certainly does make me appreciate how hard it is to do it every day–especially when he’s often home very late at night. The truth is I would rather eat frog poo on a tortilla chip than do his job and I haven’t even gotten to the actual job yet. Sadly, I’m ready to quit, just staring into the face of mass transportation. *sigh* Thanks for all you do, husband. I really appreciate you and don’t want your job. <3

But, I’m pretty certain, after what we affectionately call…DADDY PARTY WEEKEND!!!!…he’ll need at least six months before he can face another Freaky Friday too, even though I hook him up…



I’ve already got a detailed cheat sheet tacked to the kitchen cabinets listing dog feeding directions, medication schedules, school drop off and pick-up times, the middle school dance, the basketball game and more. He’s already said he won’t read it, but if he doesn’t, he’ll miss out on the cute notes with the hearts and he’ll probably lose a kid or poison the dog. LOL! At least I’d like to think that’s what would happen if I didn’t give him at least a little bit of help with my very tough job. :o)

In the past, Daddy Party Weekend has always ended with both of us exhausted on the couch, excited to catch up and also get back to reality the next day. But this year there’s a little twist. Sunday is Valentine’s Day and the kids are off on Monday. So, the hubby is dropping those little turkeys off at Grandma’s house and meeting me in the city for dinner and a show.

I have a feeling, when we get back on Monday, Grandma will be the one exhausted on the couch, excited to give those kids back…

How do you and your significant other remember to appreciate what it feels like to walk in their shoes? Any fabulous plans for Valentine’s Day? What does your significant other do with the kids (that makes you cringe) when they are large and in charge without you?


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Eat Your Noodles and Toss Your Balls

Filed under: Check-it-out, Freaky Friday, Pondering, Writing

Yes, I’m a day late on this blog post. But I’m here now. I’ve been working really hard to return to being a consistent and diligent blogger. Why? It makes me feel good. So, because of unexpected obstacles in my yesterday, you are getting a Thursday blog on Friday. How do you like them apples? That’s what I thought–you probably don’t give a flying fig. You’ve got plenty of things to sidetrack you from your own goals. I am only the center of my own universe.

But I’m not alone in that, we are all the sun and the planets of of life orbit around around us. We are jugglers. For gravity we have two hands–only TWO HANDS–to keep three or more balls in the air. Then some monkey starts throwing extra balls at us. It’s SO easy to get sidetracked and drop a ball or two.


When this happens, because it will, do not self flagellate with wet noodles. Seriously, it’s a waste of noodles.

Go home.

Make some sauce or if you’re really tired, drench them in butter and grated cheese.

Have a good meal.

Pick up your balls. Yes, even the one that rolled under the radiator where the dust bunnies live.

Then toss them back up into the air and move on with your juggling. That’s all. Just do it.

It is a good practice for everything in life. Spend less time worrying about what you didn’t do and just move forward doing the things you need to. Last time I looked, complaining about not writing a blog post doesn’t produce a blog post. And trust me, staring at all the laundry you didn’t do this week only makes your kids have to turn their underwear inside out. Eat your noodles and toss your balls.

But digging in isn’t just for the laundry pile, it also is a strategy for your creative life–especially for writers. You WILL get sidetracked on your journey to create.  You’ll be led astray by good things and bad things. Your balls will drop, roll and scatter at the most unexpected times.

Know how to pick them up and how to get home…


TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s Friday and I’m pretty excited about getting this blog post out to you. I’m also going to write today, too. Although I’m still pretty iffy on the laundry. Hey–nobody’s perfect.

How do you combat dropping your balls and being knocked off course? What’s your wet noodle of choice when beating yourself up? What’s your favorite way to eat noodles? Gosh, I want pasta now.

Happy Friday all–have a fabulous weekend and don’t forget to eat your noodles and toss your balls!


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Freaky Friday Interview – Lindsay Cummings

Filed under: Cover Art, Freaky Friday, SCBWI, Touching the Surface, YA Books

If you’ve seen the movie Freaky Friday, you know that its premise is about change and growth through role reversal. For my Friday Blog entry I thought it would be interesting to interview aspiring authors–writers who spend lots of time reading the interviews of published authors and dreaming of the day when they might get their book on the shelves..

Some days you just get lucky.  I did when an awesome new friend just shows up in my inbox.  Lindsay Cummings emailed me, struck up a conversation and we just hit it off.  Since then, we’ve chatted back and forth, talking about our our books and other fun stuff.  One day she emailed me something that made me yelp out loud in the ladies room stall of a Bed, Bath and Beyond.  It was awkward–the public yelping, I mean.  And yes, sometimes I check my email in weird places.  I see a future blog post here.  And although I love you dear reader–no, I’m not going to tell you about the thing that made me yelp.  Think of it as an imagination developing writing prompt.  Anyway…  Shortly after the yelp (So, my new favorite word today) I realized I needed to do a kick-ass cover reveal.  Ya know–so other people could yelp with me.  There was only one person I thought about asking…

You guessed it–Lindsay Cummings.  If you hadn’t guessed it, I would have been a little embarrassed for you.  (((hugs)))  Anyway–the cover reveal–It was awesome.  Lindsay was awesome.  It was one of those days that I’ll always remember.  (The big reveal for TOUCHING THE SURFACE.)  But Lindsay isn’t just wonderful because she was my book cover fairy-godmother.  Seriously, she’s just someone that you’re gonna want to get to know.  So let me introduce you.  

Can you tell us a little bit about how you got the writing bug and where you are on your journey to being a published author?

I always love this question, because I get to gush about how awesome of a writer my dad is. He got me hooked when I was younger. I always saw him, holed up in his room at his writing desk, typing away. I wanted to be like him, and when I started reading adventure stories like Gary Paulsen’s HATCHET, I thought, “okay. I can do this!”
Right now, I have an agent, Louise Fury, at the L. Perkins Agency, who I totally dig. She’s awesome and young and has the most amazing enthusiasm for my work! I have this theory that we both have some seriously twisted minds. Violence is in all my books, and I always feel like somehow we end up adding more. Lol. We have been on submission with my second novel, THE MURDER COMPLEX, for about 5 months now. Crossing fingers for that book deal! (you should, too. Maybe the gods of writing will take that into account!)
I’ve already got my fingers and my toes crossed for you!!!  That is so cool and sweet about your dad.  You just gave me goosebumps.  You are also an awesome book blogger.  *does a little dance remembering how you helped me with my big cover reveal*  How did you start book blogging and is it hard to be a writer and a blogger?  And can I have a key to your hidden time machine that allows you to get all of this done?  :o)
When I had my first novel about halfway done, a writing friend took me out to Starbucks and sat me down. She asked me about my plan for getting published…which I hadn’t really thought about before. I had no idea there were agents, or all these individual publishing houses, or conferences where a bunch of people got together to hone their writing skills. I knew NOTHING. She told me I needed to get a blog, and I didn’t want to, but she set one up for me anyways, and then it just sort of grew from there. It opened me up to this HUGE world of book nerds and other writers, tons of supportive people that are now my friends, and I really think it has helped my writing life so much! It’s so great, because I get to interact with marketing teams at publishing houses, and that sort of helps me have an edge, because now I know how much WORK goes into marketing a book. Months and months before it comes out! Blogging is a blast. It’s my reward for gettting my writing done each day, and also…free ARCs to review. That always helps 🙂
I love your reviews-so I’m so glad you did.  So, I have to ask, because I ask every writer/blogger who will put up with me–is it hard to write honest reviews and be an aspiring author at the same time.  I’ll be honest.  I only review books that resonate with me because I don’t think I could navigate those waters very successfully.  How do you do it?
Haha, I do this exactly the same way you do! If I request a book from the publisher, it’s one that I already know I am going to love! If I just receive a random one in the mail, I look at it from a writer’s perspective, someone who just loves a well-told story. I know how much work a book takes, and because of that…most always I find something to get excited about! If I don’t like a book, I just don’t review it on my blog. I will never put another author’s finished product down. Authors rock. They’re my friends 🙂

That sounds like a smart, practical and loving plan of action.  Can you tell us a little bit more about THE MURDER COMPLEX or your WIP–besides the fact that you write dystopians that have a little violence? :o)  
My book on sub is THE MURDER COMPLEX. That one is a very dark YA about teens who must struggle to survive in a world surrounded by constant daily murders. I can tell you this small snippet: You cannot see us. You cannot hear us. But we are here. And we control your every move.

I love that. 🙂 lol. The next novel, the one I have been working on for a bit, is a retelling of a famous short story from the 1900’s…with my own special twist, of course! That is all I can say, but it is deliciously chilling, full of action, and maybe even a little bit of romance. I love this one, and I already have a GREAT feeling about it!
Such a tease!!!!  Both sound awesome-can’t wait to read them.  You recently had a wonderful DEAR TEEN ME blog post and I was tickled to see that you played on a guys hockey team when you were in high school.  What do you think YA writers need to know when they are writing for kids who do the unpredictable?  Are we reaching and connecting with everyone we should be?

I’m only 20, so I think this question is great for me to answer! People that write for teens should keep in mind that when you are a teen…everything is a HUGE deal. If something goes wrong, it’s the end of the world. If they start to get a crush, they are positive they are falling in love. And that’s okay! I love that teens can experience the world with such passion!! It’s the most exciting time in a person’s life, in my opinion, because everything is confusing and new and such a big deal!

I love that too!  Okay–I need your top 5 books…

Top 5 books. Goodness. I have a lot of recent favorites…but as a writer, here’s the top 5 that have influenced me the most in my writing life!

1- Lord of the Flies
2- Catcher in the Rye
3- Hatchet 
4- Delirium
5- Uglies series

Seriously, I love all of them.  I should have asked you what you thought of Gary Paulsen at the SCBWI LA Conference–and btw I can’t believe we didn’t meet there…Oh, wait…this is still your interview.  Never mind–I’ll email later.  If you want Lindsay Cummings for a best bud–and I’m here to tell you that you do–check out her blog or her website.  Lindsay is also on FacebookTwitter and an author at Teen Shiver.

Go ahead…ask her a question.  Or you can just tell me what makes you yelp.  :o)


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Freaky Friday Interview – Heather Chriscaden Versace

Filed under: Freaky Friday, SCBWI, Touching the Surface, Writing, YA Books

If you’ve seen the movie Freaky Friday, you know that its premise is about change and growth through role reversal. For my Friday Blog entry I thought it would be interesting to interview aspiring authors–writers who spend lots of time reading the interviews of published authors and dreaming of the day when they might get their book on the shelves..

Today’s Freaky Friday Interview is with the very talented by shy Heather Chriscaden Versace.  Heather and I are members of my local SCBWI Shop Talk.  So we’ve gotten a chance to read each other’s work,  hang out in person and cause all kinds of trouble in our local Barnes & Noble.  You’re going to love her, so let’s not wait another minute.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Heather Chriscaden Versace and I am a music lover and a bookworm.You can bet that if I am not playing or teaching or listening to music, you’ll find me with my nose in a book or at the computer writing stories of my own.
Music has always played a large role in my life, and I have played many instruments, including piano, clarinet, electric bass, and double bass …and once I even played a version of Misty on the nose flute that had the audience in tears (OK, so maybe they were tears of mirth).
Music has taken me around the world -from Seattle to New York City, from Poland to Japan,and from the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Bogotá, Colombia to Leonard Nimoy’s living room.
Music was the course of my studies in college.
I earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Double Bass Performance from WSU, and then became the first student to earn a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Oregon.
Since then, I have spent time as a full-time freelance jazz bassist, a full-time teacher of college music theory and ear-training, a teacher of private music lessons, and, always, a closet composer of music and stories.
Wow! You’ve seen and done so much. It’s incredible. So…what made you start to write for kids and what the heck is a nose flute? :o)
As soon as I realized that people actually wrote books (that they weren’t just placed on library shelves by fairies), I wanted to write them — don’t worry, this was when I was about six years old. Since then I was always writing one thing or another that I was convinced would be my first “novel.”
Then, in middle school, though I was still an avid reader, I started to get really serious about music, and at the same time my passion for writing dimmed because I wasn’t inspired by the writing we were required to do in school.
Since then, my life has been all about music. That is until three years ago, when this nagging urge to write a book reappeared unannounced on my doorstep. Instantly we became fast friends again. 
I didn’t really choose to write for children, so much as the most compelling story that presented itself to me happened to involve a 13-year-old girl. But that being said, I do love middle grade and young adult literature. Young people that age are at such an exciting time in their lives – walking the tight rope between discovering their uniqueness and figuring out how they fit in in this crazy world. 
As for the nose flute … hmmm. It looks like a hard plastic binky, really. You play it by changing the shape of your mouth the way you would if you were whistling a tune … but at the same time, you have to blow through your nose to produce the sound. It sounds a little like a slide whistle. There are some videos on youtube for those who want to see and hear it for themselves. Unfortunately, many budding nose flute careers have been derailed by the common cold : )
In fact, here is link to a video…

OMG!!!! That was more “interesting” than I’d expected. ROTFL!!! So glad you sent the link LOL! 

So does your WIP have a nose flute in it? Can you tell us about it?
Haha. No, my WIP doesn’t have a nose flute in it … yet. You may be on to something there …
At any rate, my main character, Edra Edwards, does play the flute. She wants to be a great composer and is off to Camp Komeekha, a summer music camp in the Catskill mountains. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned: she bombs her audition and is placed last in all performing groups, she is not selected to study composition with her idol, Maestro Dupree, and her beginning composition teacher seems to have it out for her. 
At the same time, strange things are happening at camp. There is a warning from Tristan Bridges — a camper who supposedly fell off the top of Komeekha Falls nearly 15 years ago. It is assumed to be a hoax until a mysterious man dressed in gladiator attire is seen roaming the forest, and a student is injured while hiking the trails alone.
When Edra has a particularly bad day, she breaks the rules and heads up to the cave behind the waterfall. As she explores the cave, she finds a passageway to a beautiful meadow, but before she has time to check it out, someone grabs her from behind, and everything goes black.
The following weekend, Edra and two friends return to the cave to investigate. They don’t find the meadow, but they do find an old journal – the journal of Tristan Bridges. The journal is the first of many discoveries as the three are pulled into the mystery of Tristan Bridges and find themselves in a race to rescue him.
Ohhh sounds intriguing!!!! I can’t wait to read all of it!!!  Ummmm one last question…see I can’t stop myself.  What are your top five books–ya know–the ones that would make you get our the old nose flute and do a jig?
Okay, I’m going to cheat on this one because I’m a series girl and always have been. There’s just something wonderful about finding an exciting world inhabited with characters you love – and then getting to spend an entire series with them.
So here are my favorite series, some which had a great impact on me as a child, some as a teen, and some not so very long ago:
1) Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series
2) C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia
3) Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall Trilogy
4) J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series
5) Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games Trilogy

Thank you so much Heather.  I’d stick around and chat a little longer but I’m heading out to get a nose flute.  Shhhh don’t tell anyone.  *wink*  If you would like to find out more about Heather’s books and music, you can find her on Facebook.  Have a great weekend.  :o)

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Freaky Friday Interview/Editor for Hire-Roxanne Werner

Filed under: Conferences, Freaky Friday, SCBWI, Touching the Surface, Wolfson Literary

  If you’ve seen the movie Freaky Friday, you know that its premise is about change and growth through role reversal. For my Friday Blog entry I thought it would be interesting to interview aspiring authors–writers who spend lots of time reading the interviews of published authors and dreaming of the day when they might get their book on the shelves..

But often an aspiring author can wear more than one hat.  (Use your imagination-I didn’t make Roxanne put on two for the picture.)   Roxanne and I met through our local Eastern NY SCBWI. It would be fair to say that she was invaluable in my growth as a writer.  I learned more from her critiques of my work than I can adequately express.  Fortunately for me, she is part of my Crit Crew and continues to help me grow.  As you’ll see below–it’s your lucky day because she has her own editing business.  But I won’t jump the gun, let’s get this interview started…

Roxanne, can you give me a little bit of your background in the world of children’s writing?

Sure Kim. I loved reading as a child and that inspired me to write my own stories. My mom saved some of those vintage attempts. I looked at them recently and have to admit I was not a child prodigy. I continued writing for myself for many years. About five years ago, I decided to pursue writing for publication. I began taking courses and attending conferences. I joined SCBWI and made many wonderful friends. Gradually, my writing skills improved and I started to make sales to online magazines. My first sale was for $9.00. I celebrated by taking my husband out for a $20.00 pizza dinner. I was already in the red. But I was hooked on writing and there was no turning back. Since then I’ve had pieces published in Turtle, Know and Highlights. This year I began working as an editor for Stories for Children Magazine and that has given me a feel for the other side of the writing desk. It helps me look at my own writing with an editor’s critical eye.

Since we know each other from our local SCBWI I’m going to start out by telling everyone that you’re modest and to please tell us more about your piece in Highlights.  

First let me elaborate on our local SCBWI. I remember the first time I went to our local chapter meeting. I had just started writing with the intent to publish and I had no idea what to expect. I’m a very shy person, so I sat on the edge and tried to disappear. It only took one meeting for me to feel I was at the right place. Everyone was incredibly supportive of each other and even a shy person like me soon felt at home. It was through that group that I met my critique partners. And it was there that I first read my Highlights contest-winning story, Snow day in Space, before an audience. Winning the Highlights contest was an amazing experience. I had no idea I would win and when I got the call I put my foot in my mouth by saying, “Oh, I thought you were calling about the rebus I submitted.” As though, I would rather have my rebus accepted than win the contest. Writing is so much better than speaking because you can revise before stupidity comes out. It took four years before I was able to see the story in print. It just came out this February. The artwork was superb and I received the additional honor of being selected author of the month. The story, without the beautiful artwork, is actually available online, but if anyone has access to a library, I’d recommend reading it in the magazine.

Could I have you share a tip or two that you’ve picked up as a writer wearing an editorial hat?

Well being on the other side of the desk has been an eye opener. I now understand that editors have other things to do than respond immediately to my submissions. I try to respond as soon as possible, but I do get backlogged. I also realize the importance of proof reading and having another pair of eyes go over your work. I’m amazed at the number of submissions I receive that have errors in them. Another thing that I find is so many submissions are unoriginal. If a writer really wants to get my attention, they should try thinking outside the box. Find that fresh twist on an old theme. So be patient, revise, proof-read and try looking at things from a new perspective.
Because were buds, I’m privy to insider information and I’m too excited to wait any longer.  Can you tell everyone about your newest project?  *squee*

Well I actually have two new projects, one as an editor and one as a writer. As an editor, I am now offering a critique service on my website. I am very excited about the opportunity to help writers bring out the best in their stories. I’m sure you know from working with your editor at Simon Pulse that editors get just as excited about stories as writers do.

You are soooo right.  Anica Rissi and my agent Michelle Wolfson have the same emotional connection and dedication to TOUCHING THE SURFACE that I do.  It’s exactly what you want in an editor and agent.  *heart squish*

Your *squee* I assume was meant for my writing project. I’m very excited about that too. This is the first time I’m attempting to write a YA novel. The working title is The Pain Eater. It’s a subject close to home. Although it is a paranormal novel, it deals with what happens when a person tries to take on or ‘fix’ everyone else’s emotional pain. If you let yourself become the ‘fixer’, the emotional burden can end up destroying you.   
You get a *squee* for both.  You were my first writer friend helping me to edit my writing and I will recommend you to anyone!  I learned so much from your knowledge and your detailed approach.  I can safely say I’m a much better writer today because of you.  I’ve also taken a sneak peek at the help you’re offering with your critique service and I think it’s amazing.  I’ve also gotten a chance to reverse our roles and critique some of The Pain Eater.  I think you’re thinking outside the box and I want to read more of it ASAP!!!
Can you give us some more information about your service in case someone is looking to get a paid critique?  And who would benefit from hiring this kind of help?    
Information about my critique service is posted on my website I am offering critiques on magazine stories, picture books and mid-grade or YA novels. It is all done via email which allows anyone to send in their manuscript quickly and easily. Flat fees are posted on my site and the cost of any additional pages can be discussed with me via email. 
Any writer can benefit from having a fresh pair of eyes look over their work. Even the most experienced writer needs to have their work edited. I would say people who are serious about their work and want to move on to the next stage with their writing would benefit the most. Many of today’s writers are self-taught. They manage to get so far on their own, but may be unable to break into getting published. Having someone go over their work with a practiced eye will be beneficial to them. I can point out strengths and weaknesses in their writing and make suggestions to help them reach the next stage on their writing journey. We are often too close to our own work to see what needs to be done. A professional critique is sometimes all it takes to get a manuscript moving in the right direction.

I think you’re very right about needing outside eyes on your work.  May I also suggest, whether you have a paid critique and/or you’ve found a critique group to work with that you keep and open mind about the thoughts and recommendations that are given to you.  I think our first instinct is to defend what we’ve created and that is counter productive to growing.  Having said that, once you’ve allowed the suggestions to sink in and played with your writing, you alone have to be the judge of what works for you.  

Earlier you talked about how awesome the SCBWI is and we just got back from the SCBWI Eastern PA Pocono Mt. Retreat.  Membership and conferences cost money and the economy is tight.  Why should people spend their hard earned cash when there is so much free info on the internet?   

I know all about the economy. I just lost my job after working at a company for 34 years. I did a lot of soul searching before going to the SCBWI Eastern PA Conference. Everyone’s situation is different. Only they can tell if their budget will allow them to join SCBWI or attend conferences. However, I do believe that if you are serious about writing, they are worth the investment. The internet is an invaluable source of ‘free’ information, networking and support. But there is only so far that you can go on your own. Conference workshops with editors and accomplished authors are inspiring and take your writing to a completely new level. Conferences open up doors to closed houses. If you don’t have an agent and want to submit to a closed house, a conference lets you get a foot in the door. You hear first hand from editors what they are looking for. If you can afford to get a critique from one of them, you will learn exactly what you are doing right or wrong with your manuscript. Immersing yourself for a weekend in the writing community is an experience every writer should have at least once. Consider the money spent as an investment in yourself and your writing career.

It was a great weekend and I’m so glad you came.  (((hugs)))

I know you have an amazing MG novel and you’re WIP has me very intrigued.  Care to share a little bit about your writing?

It’s hard to analyze your own writing. I think we’re too close to our works. My stories are very character driven. I always have the emotional plot arc worked out early on. The action plot line gives me trouble. My MG in particular was hard because I needed to write a battle scene. I ended up writing the aftermath first because that was the emotional part. Picking up the pieces after the battle was easier for me to write than the actual battle. My WIP is paranormal, but it is really about the emotional relationships of the characters. I think one of the reasons you and I connect with our writing is because your writing is also very much about the characters and their emotional development. We also both enjoy adding a touch of fantasy to our worlds.

Yes, we do!  I won’t keep you too much longer, but I always like to ask about your top five books. I think it says so much about a person.

That’s a tough one. I love reading and it’s hard to pick out favorites. It depends so much on my mood and what I want from a book at a particular time. I will say…

The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien is my all time favorite book. I’ve read it so many times. And read it aloud to my son and husband. It’s hard for me to imagine how Tolkien created such a detailed world. I first read it in seventh grade and even learned the elvish alphabet. I can write notes in elf. Anyone who can read elf is an instant friend. I had ‘speak friend and enter’ in elf on my college dorm room and when someone actually understood it, we clicked immediately. Not too long ago, I unearthed a fantasy I wrote in college. As I read it over, I realized it was written in Tolkien’s voice not mine.

I also love classics like Jane Eyre. There’s nothing like a good romance story, mix in a bit of fantasy with it and I’m in heaven.

Who could resist Jamie Frasier from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander?

I love the voice of Angela’s Ashes. It makes me remember my father, who is of Irish descent.

I’ll end with another trilogy. Trilogy’s let you cheat and have more than five favorites. Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy. The Arthur legend has been told so many times, but this is my favorite version. She makes Merlin a person that you can feel for, not just a legendary magician. For me characters are always the most important part of any book. The really well done ones become friends and how can you choose which of your friends is your favorite?

I agree completely!!!!  Besides it never hurts to have more books AND more friends. Thank you so much for taking the time to get a little freaky with me.  Having just spent the conference weekend together, I’m sure you’ve hit your “Kim Saturation Point.”  *grin*  
Don’t forget, if you’re looking for someone with amazing editorial skills to help you out with your manuscript, you should check out Roxanne Werner.  You can find her on her blog…The Write Word Paints a Thousand Pictures.  

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Freaky Friday Interview/It’s a Baby Book Blogger-Logan Turner

Filed under: Baby Book Blogger, Freaky Friday

  If you’ve seen the movie Freaky Friday, you know that its premise is about change and growth through role reversal. For my Friday Blog entry I thought it would be interesting to interview aspiring authors–writers who spend lots of time reading the interviews of published authors and dreaming of the day when they might get their book on the shelves..

But this week there’s a twist.  We’re going to find out what happens when an aspiring author is also a Baby Book Blogger.

Logan Turner and I connected through Book Blogs, where she runs a wonderful self-titled YA book review blog-Logan E. Turner.

So what happens when you combine an aspiring author and a book blogger? Lets find out…

A bit about me? Little old moi? Well, I was born and raised in Nebraska, and lived in the capital (geography lesson!), Lincoln, until after college. I earned my BFA in Theatre Arts from a small liberal arts college, which is where I met my husband. After graduation in 2004, we moved to Chicago and have been here ever since. 
Writing is in my blood. I’ve been journaling, writing poetry, and writing fiction since junior high at least. My mom has an MFA in Poetry and had me and my sister reading and writing from an early age. Our house was always filled with books and notebooks.
I’m also a grad student, studying for my master’s in public service management. I’ll be graduating in June, and hope to move into a research and writing role at a nonprofit or government institution – like a grant writer, program officer, or research assistant. Anything as long as it involves writing!

Congrats on the pending graduation too!  So Logan, you are my first interview that is both aspiring author and book blogger. Can you tell us a little bit more about your blog and how you got started with it?

I discovered book blogging through a friend in one of my writing classes – Tabitha from Writer Musings. She had her blogs listed in her email signature and I decided to check them out after she’d established herself as a YA guru in our class. I wanted to know how she knew about (what seemed like) every YA book ever released. Through her blog and our instructor’s blog, I started poking through their blogrolls and checking out other sites. Of course, one of the first I came across was The Story Siren’s and from there everything snowballed. I had been looking for a way to develop a blog but never knew what to write about, until DUH! I realized I should be writing about books and writing! I decided to get my own domain and operate under my own name for simplicity’s sake. Right now I’m mostly book blogging and doing one weekly post about writing, because I’m still more reader than writer at this point. 

What a neat way to get into book blogging.  Can you tell us a little bit more about your writing? BTW-Linda Sue Park says that the training for a writer is reading :o)

Currently I’m revising (heavily) a book I finished for NaNoWriMo. It’s a young adult fantasy about a girl and her pet cougar battling an evil king to save her kidnapped father. Lately I’ve had a hard time focusing on that project because I have this image that won’t leave my head. It’s more apocalyptic/dystopian in nature, and I think sooner or later I’m going to have to buckle down and let that story be heard!
I love it when a story comes knocking on my door.  It’s like a first date–kind of fun. So, I have to ask–do you think there are any advantages and/or disadvantages to being an aspiring author and a book blogger?  
Boy, these days that is quite the loaded question! 🙂 When I first started, I didn’t give it a second thought. I didn’t (and to some extent, still don’t) see why they have to be mutually exclusive. I wanted to blog to meet people in the book industry, connect with people who love to read and write, and to get my name out there. I think those goals are advantageous to both book blogging and a potential writing career. I guess a disadvantage that I hadn’t considered fully is the idea that being one can tend to compromise the other. If you’re an aspiring author who blogs about books, can your reviews be trustworthy or are they just brown-nosing? If you’re a book blogger who wants to write a book, have you boxed yourself in to the blogging community? Personally, I think the answers are yes, no, and no. I like to think that I’m a nice person and am always level-headed and professional, so I hope that what I choose to blog about, be it books or writing or what I had for breakfast, always reflects on me positively and can only help rather than hinder me.

That was a very thoughtful answer…thank you.  As a blogger, you are well aware of the power of technology in today’s world, without it there wouldn’t even be book bloggers. But, how do you think technology effects you as a writer?  Is it a double edged sword?

I have definitely fallen victim to technology hindering my writing. For NaNoWriMo, I downloaded the trial of Scrivener software to use during the process. It was a helpful way for me to stay organized and so I recently purchased the full version with the "winner" discount. I opened up my laptop to start working on edits and spent THREE HOURS doing nothing but working my way through the Scrivener tutorial. By the time I realized how long I’d been at it, my editing time was *poof* gone. I didn’t do a single thing to my ms. So frustrating!
Social media is a big distraction as well. It’s been said that we should be putting ourselves out there on Twitter, Facebook, and connecting all of that to our blogs. Between following agents and authors, posting fresh content, and working all day, I really struggle to find time to devote solely to writing. 
That said, if I had to write with pen and paper, I would NEVER finish anything longer than a few pages. I can’t write for that long and my hands can’t keep up with my brain! So in that sense technology is a win, and I can’t complain about all of the wonderful people I’ve "met" already (yourself included!).

That is hysterical-I just bought Scrivener!!!  I’m starting my edits for TOUCHING THE SURFACE and wanted to be more organized about it.  So, I lost my morning to setting that up and learning the bare bones. Good to know I can come to you with questions. *grin* So…the answer then is balance? Yes, I think it’s balance.  We’ll work on that. LOL!  BTW-I’m so glad we’ve become friends too.

I’m going to ask about something that came up in my last writer’s group.  We were talking about how family and friends are usually very supportive of our journey to be a writer (and in your case a book blogger too) but there are always people out there who think that you should be spending your time doing something real, productive, something that pays etc…  Do you think this is a universal condition for artists everywhere? Have you run into this?

I have the unusual family that is full of artists, so I was lucky enough to never get discouraged from following artistic inclinations. Mom let us do anything we wanted – ballet classes, art classes, music lessons, we did it all. In fact, if anyone is telling me to get a "real" job, it’s me. Isn’t that crazy? Whether from fear of failure or just not believing in myself enough, I’m the one who has always made the decision to give up those passions for reality. I’m working every day to change that and find a way to do what I love.

I think that is very cool.  It’s hard to try to change yourself and very brave to say it out loud.  I like you Logan-so don’t give up. ((((hugs)))

Could you tell me the 5 books that have inspired you the most?  I know you love a zillion-but what 5 hold special meaning for you?

I’ve been thinking over this question long and hard. Here’s what I have so far, in no particular order:


Watchers by Dean Koontz. I read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz in elementary and junior high school, and have read most of their books, but this one stands out from the crowd. Not only is it a brilliant suspense thriller, but it has creative sci-fi elements and really explores the nature of man’s relationship with beast. It asks tough questions about medical/genetic experimentation. It’s one of the few books I’ve read over and over, and still cry like a baby at the end.
Animal Farm by George Orwell. This was another book that really struck a chord with me in my youth. This book stands up as just a book about some weird animals and also as an incredible Communist allegory. Talk about communicating a message without losing the story! Utter genius.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Perfection. This book grabbed me from the first page and embedded itself into my psyche. This is what good dystopian fiction wants to be. Not only did I love everything about the story, but it got me obsessed with YA literature.
Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare. I know it’s not technically a book, but how can a theater girl not have Shakespeare on her list of influential literature? The writing is beautiful, the story is captivating, and the action is exciting. Comedy and tragedy both work so well in this play to draw out all kinds of emotions from the readers/viewers. Shakespeare is the master of all writers as far as I’m concerned.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. This has all of my favorite elements: a historical setting, time travel, suspense and romance. This book will always be on one of my top ten lifetime lists. Gabaldon is not afraid to really go there with her plots, and the action is often dark, horrifying, yet still believable. Her characters are not perfect, and they often do hurtful things to one another. I am always completely transported when I read one of her books.

Thanks Logan!!!!  I recently met with my agent and editor for the first time and we were talking about Outlander LOL!  I said that my oldest son was Jamison aka Jamie and that I may own a scarf in the Fraser plaid and just might have had a silver ring that looked a little like Claire’s until I wore it so much it bent. LOL!  Thanks so much for taking all the extra time to help me out.

If you’d like to follow Logan’s wonderful reviews and thoughts on writing, you can find her at Logan E. Turner.   She is also on Twitter!




Freaky Friday-Interview with aspiring children’s author Holly Dodson

Filed under: Freaky Friday

If you’ve seen the movie Freaky Friday, you know that its premise is about change and growth through role reversal. For my Friday Blog entry I thought it would be interesting to interview aspiring authors–writers who spend lots of time reading the interviews of published authors and dreaming of the day when they might get their book on the shelves…

Today’s interview is with Holly Dodson.  Holly and I met on Book Blogs , a really interesting place for people who blog.  It’s a great place to meet new people and make connections.  I can prove it to you–let me introduce you to Holly.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and when and why you started to write?

I’m a single mom who works full time and still makes the time to write. I love every minute of it! My son is three and is the absolute love of my life. Currently I am finishing up revisions on my second YA novel, which I hope to start shopping to agents this spring. Eee!

I have always loved the written word. From the time I could read I don’t think I’ve ever been without a book by my side. Writing started for me in the form of keeping a journal. I can thank my English teachers for that! In high school I wrote many angsty poems and even a play trying to find my niche, but my first attempt at a novel came after my son was born. My life sort-of fell apart for a while there. My marriage failed and the only way I knew how to dig out was with my words. It’s all history from there. Writing is my passion. It’s as vital to me as the air I breathe and the kiddo who owns my heart.

That sounds great  So can you tell us a little bit about your YA’s?  First a little bit about novel #1. Did you ever send it out?  What did you learn from it? Then of course we need to hear all about your WIP.

My first YA has been shelved for now.  It was an amazing learning experience, and the novel was the one I needed to write first.  I really found myself in it.  Plus, I met my wonderful critique partner because of it, and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

My current WIP is titled BECAUSE SHE SAYS SO.  It is about sixteen-year-old Kate who is trapped in a fairy tale and must escape before she loses her identity, or winds up dead. 
Kate made a stupid wish to escape her life in favor of a fairy tale dream.  When the wish comes true, Kate begins to realize that fairy tale land isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.  Inside the story, she is bound by the words the God-like narrator speaks. The venomous Prince Charming is out to kill her, and there is no happily ever after in this magical kingdom of torture.

Now, getting out of the mess she created won’t be nearly as easy as Kate thinks.

Ahhhh I love it!  Don’t know if you’re a Broadway fan, but it sounds like it has a touch of Into the Woods (one of my favorites) in it.  I LOVE the whole concept of the narrator playing a role.  Very cool. I always find the story behind the story interesting.  I know, in my own novel,  that the creative journey was long and twisted.  A real growing experience.  How did you find yourself in the world of BECAUSE SHE SAYS SO?  I’m also curious about how you came up with the title.

It’s a pretty funny story.  When I was in college I dreamed about a girl who fell into a book.  I swore up and down it was from a movie trailer I had seen, and honest to goodness searched for it.  For years!  Finally last summer I decided to write the story of this girl who has haunted my dreams for so long.  I churned out a first draft in just a few weeks, and here we are.  The title comes into play with the narrator.  When she speaks the lines of the story, the characters are forced to do exactly what she says.

BTW-bravo to finding a crit partner.  I know how much I love mine.  Are you also a member of any other groups? SCBWI?

I am a member of SCBWI, YALitchat, and the Florida Writers Association.


I love your story.  I’m so glad you chased that dream down and I can’t wait to read it. The concept leaves really fun visuals dancing across my eyes.  
I know that there are several authors that have had a gigantic impact on me and while I LOVE their books, there is a lot more to the hero worship than just that.  In this age of technology and conferneces it is very easy to have access to an author in a way that was never possible before.  So, who has influenced you and how?
The one author who really inspired me from the start — who inspired me to pick up my pen and write a novel in the first place — J. K. Rowling.  I know, a lot of people probably say that, right?  But here’s why:  We’ve shared a similar path.  She escaped an abusive marriage with her baby only to land in poverty, struggling to make ends meet, when she started writing Harry Potter.  Six months into writing, Jo lost her mother.  She said in an interview that her grief is reflected on every single page in the Harry Potter series. 

I escaped an abusive marriage with my two month old son.  There was no money.  I started writing and the words flowed and flowed into my $0.10 spiral notebooks.  Then a month after I started my first YA novel, my younger brother died in a tragic accident.  Like Jo, every word on every page I write reflects that loss.

She inspires me to keep going.  To keep writing no matter what I face.  
I am so glad I asked that question.  You need to give yourself a great big hug for being inspired and for taking that magic and turning it into something positive.  Last but not least-I need your top five books.
Thank you.  I’m very glad to be able to share my story with people.  I only hope it will one day inspire someone else along a similar path as me.


1.  HARRY POTTER, obviously, because of Jo Rowling.  The magnitude of her inspiration could count for all five, but I’ll limit it to one. lol

2.  THE SPIRIT HUNTERS which is by my critique partner, Susan Dennard.  It’s due out Summer of 2012 from HarperCollins Children’s so you all can share in it’s awesomeness.  Susan’s novel really inspired me from the trenches of the hard work.  To watch it go from my critique notes, to Susan’s amazing eye for revisions, to a big house publisher was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever been a part of.

3.  TROUBLING A STAR by Madeline L’Engle.  This is a book I read over and over and over again as a kid.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  It really fostered my love of reading and the way it could transport me to other places and times.

4.  THE MISTS OF AVALON by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  Another book I would devour again and again.  It always left me feeling powerful, and like there was more to life than just going to school to learn stuff.  It really made me think about the impact I was having on the people around me.

5.  Last, but not least, DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST by Juliet Marillier.  I read this as an adult and again, the passion and the beauty of these words held me transfixed in a way few have.  Marillier inspires me to be a better writer, to have that poetic, twisting prose that pulls on your heartstrings.

Thank you for interviewing me!  It was fun to put to words all these meanings and reasons behind my writing.  🙂

Holly, it was such a pleasure to get to know you and I’m looking forward to meeting you in person some time.  I appreciate you taking the time to stop over and get a little freaky. *grin*  

If you would like to get to know more about Holly Dodson, you can check out her web site or her blog Super Mom Writes.

Just a little teaser…  I’m starting to interview book bloggers (because come on– they are really cool) and Holly’s sister Jessica is a "Baby" YA Book Blogger.  Her interview will be up next week.  





Freaky Friday-Interview with aspiring children’s author Alice Barber

Filed under: Freaky Friday

If you’ve seen the movie Freaky Friday, you know that its premise is about change and growth through role reversal. For my Friday Blog entry I thought it would be interesting to interview aspiring authors; writers who spend lots of time reading the interviews of published authors and dreaming of the day when they might get their book on the shelves…
Today’s interview is with teen writer Alice Barber. Alice and I met on Facebook and have struck up a friendship with our mutual love of reading and writing. She’s even allowed me to take a look at some of her own writing. She’s very awesome and I can’t wait to share her with you.
Lets get started…Can you tell me a little bit about how you became a writer?

Well honestly it actually came from boredom and frustration, a funny combination in a kid. The first time I’d actually written a piece outside of school for my own pleasure was the summer before sixth grade. The reason being, I’d read practically every book in the house worth reading and with no way to get to the library I decided to create my own.
I think that is a very cool way to start. What kinds of stories do you like to write?

Well, honestly a better question would be what don’t I like 🙂 I’ve dabbled a little in everything from science fiction to romance, but actually it all keeps coming back to the suspense intrigue genre with a hint of romance.
I like that…its good to dabble. Do you have any favorite authors who inspire you in the area that you find yourself writing? I was also wondering if you share your love of reading and writing with your friends or if you keep it tucked away like a little secret?

Actually I have a few favorites. I absolutely love Janet Evanovich-she’s just so hilarous, she inspires the little humor I have. :o) But for the actually writing itself, I think I’d have to say its a tie between James Patterson and Stephen King.
All of my friends know of my love for reading, they hardly ever see me without a book. Most of them know I like to write, however I’d say only my closest friends have actually read anything I’ve written, but hopefully this changes.
If you haven’t had the chance yet, you should read Stephen King’s ON WRITING. Its a wonderful book and story intertwined and very inspirational. I was wondering if I could pick your brain for a minute? When I was a teenager (just a couple years ago LOL!) I stopped writing because I felt very exposed when I realized that my best material was came from the deepest parts of me. It made me feel too vulnerable and I stopped writing from that place. When that happened, the writing seemed to lose something, so I just let it slip through my fingers. What is it like for you to be a teen writer? How do your friends support you? What are your writing dreams?

As a teen writer, sometimes I find I don’t have enough time to write and I go through long periods of time where I stop writing, especially after I tap into the “place”. Its hard and sometimes it gets to the point where I let my emotions (at the time I’m writing) infulence my writing, which is a good thing but if I’m really angry and I’m trying to convey something sarcastic, it comes out wrong. So my raging emotions aren’t a big help most of the time.
I think I might have it easy in the way where I’m a teenager and most of the time writing teenage characters, so I kind of have a better insight. I have this one friend I can bounce ideas off of and she’ll get into it with me and that helps a lot. Often times I find my characters have minds of their own and where I was leading them…they decided they’d rather not go and veered off into left field. But all of my friends are supportive in one way or another. They’re great critics and they’ll read it and be like, “I liked this part but this part was too confusing.” Plus they put up with my moods when I do write–its amazing.
Realistically my writing dream is to get at least something published, not even on a large scale just published whether it be a poem, a novel or a short story.
Sounds like you have great friends and I recommend you shoot for the stars. Don’t think realistically at all. Just write the best stories you can write and always leave yourself open to the possibility of anything happening.

I was also wondering if you blog? And before you go, I’m also going to need to know your top 5 books and why they mean so much to you.

No, I’m not blogging at the moment, but maybe it could be something I could get into. Hmmm my top 5 favorite books have to be…
1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel- Its such a captaviating book that challenges the mind and what you believe. I had to read it for a school assignment and was very pleased to find I actually enjoyed it because so many people hated it. It was written beautifully and had an elemnet of a sarcastic twist towards the ending.
2. Little Women by Lousia May Allcott- I love Jo so much. She’s everything I would love to be, maybe not as outspoken. However I find myself like Beth, but thats beside the point. A book about family and their struggles, this book defintely touched me and influences my writing. It taught me that I shouldn’t give up even if the world says no.
3. Christy Miller seris by Robin Jones Gunn- Another inspiring story about yes, true love. Christy is honestly the ultimate person that I would want to be, more than Jo, shes compassionate, caring, patient. She’s a Godly women, but she has her faults. I love reading these books me and my friends always declare we can’t wait to meet our “Todd” (who is Christys boyfriend.) They brigthen my day and help me in the struggle of faith.
4. Maximum Ride: Saving the World and other Extreme Sports by James Patterson- This book has its moments, I laugh and cry and shout at books when I read them but nothing has sent me into such a hysterical laugh as this book. I love James Patterson’s work, especially the Maximum Ride books, they’re such a great read with a sarcastic tone.
5. An Abundance Of Katherines by John Greene- I honestly can say I’ve never read anything quite like this before, a boy with the fetish for girls who have the name Katherine and spell it with a K. It was funny, seriously an equation for the predictablilty of when the next Katherine is going to dump you. After 19 times you’d think you would move on to someone else. I read this book during lunch and was laughing and smiling so much my friend asked for it when I was done. Its a contagious book, spread the fun!
An Abundance of Katherines is a personal favorite of mine too. I can only hope that my writer’s mind is that interesting.

I’ve really enjoyed interviewing you, but even better, I’ve loved becoming friends with you. I can’t wait to read your first published work.

If you’re a YA writer, be sure to friend Alice on FB and welcome her into our amazing community of writers.

I’ve already given this info to Alice, but if you’re a teen writer don’t forget to check out LIMINAL. “Liminal is an online and print literary journal written for teens, by teens. It’s a place for artists ages 13 to 19 to express their unique perspectives of the world.”




Freaky Friday-Interview with aspiring children’s author Amy Sundberg

Filed under: Freaky Friday

If you’ve seen the movie Freaky Friday, you know that its premise is about change and growth through role reversal. For my Friday Blog entry I thought it would be interesting to interview aspiring authors; writers who spend lots of time reading the interviews of published authors and dreaming of the day when they might get their book on the shelves…

Today’s Freaky Friday interview is with Amy Sundberg. I recently met Amy at the 2010 SCBWI NY Conference, but I’m so excited about this interview, not only because she is awesome, but because she shared so much information that is helping me with the revisions I’m currently working on. Get out your paper and pen because you’re going to want to take some notes.

Amy, can you tell me a little bit about how you got started writing?

When I was in second grade, we had to write and illustrate our own books for National Book Week. I finished creating “The Princess and the Cave” in record time and loved writing it so much that I wrote a second book, something about too much candy. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer. I wrote a lot of stories and read Writer’s Digest religiously, and one year for Christmas I wrote my mom twenty-four stories, one to read for each day of Advent. The summer before high school began, I started my first novel, but about halfway through I got stuck! I didn’t know anything about outlining ahead of time back then.

By that point, I had decided that I needed to do something else besides writing because writing wasn’t practical enough. Ironically, I decided to become a musician instead, which is probably equally impractical! I loved musical theater in particular, and I started studying singing seriously, and learned how to compose and write songs. I always thought I’d come back to writing at some point, but I felt like I didn’t have enough to say yet. So I went out and collected experiences instead.
Eventually, I sat down and wrote the rough draft of a complete musical, which is something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. I wrote everything: the music, the lyrics, the book. And it was based on an original story as well. Writing that musical taught me two important things: one, that I had the ability and self discipline to complete a large project, and two, that I had plenty of things to say after all. So not quite two years ago, I started planning and writing my first novel. Ever since that time, I’ve been voraciously learning everything I can about writing: writing short stories, joining a critique group, reading tons of books in my genres, reading blogs and articles about the craft and business of writing, going to conferences and conventions, racking up the obligatory rejections. And I’ll the rough draft of my second novel in a few weeks. *Amy has finished her rough draft. Woot!!!!

This is why I love doing these interviews…I learn so much more about the people I already know. I had no idea about your musical talent. I’m so impressed and lets face it jealous. I’ve always wanted to be more exposed to music and singing. Can you tell us a little bit about your first novel and your work in progress? I also need to know…Do you watch Glee?

When I was writing it, I thought my first novel was YA urban fantasy, but I guess it actually falls under the paranormal umbrella. It’s a story of a girl grieving the death of her mom, when she discovers that her mom has a secret magical past and might not be dead after all. She spends the rest of the book searching for the truth about her mom while being hunted by her mom’s past enemies. It’s about family, about how the past changes based on who’s telling the story, and an exploration of how much choice we have as to whether to follow in the footsteps of our parents. I learned a lot writing and revising this book, but for now it’s trunked.

The novel I’m working on now is a contemporary YA with a working title of How to Get Over Stage Fright. It’s about a teenage girl who is passionate about musical theater but has developed stage fright (and a host of other problems) as a result of the traumatic divorce of her parents and her dad’s across-country move. Most of the book takes place during a summer musical production of Les Miserables. I’ve had a blast working on this project; it was a change for me since I usually identify myself as a writer of speculative fiction (fantasy and science fiction). I’d been waiting for the right idea to come along so I could take advantage of my love for music (and my background in it), and it’s been as interesting and entertaining to write about as I thought it would be.

As for Glee, I don’t have network T.V., so no, I haven’t watched it yet. I’ve also avoided it so it won’t influence my WIP– the premise is different, of course, but just similar enough that I thought it would be better to wait. Besides, if I wait for the full first season to come out on DVD, then I don’t have to wait to find out what happens next… at least until the end of season cliffhanger, that is!

Your first story sounds really interesting but your second one sounds like something I would have eaten up as a teen reader. Interestingly my fear of having stage fright gave me a “pre-stage fright”. I never really did the play thing even though I secretly wanted to soooo bad. I did dance, so I wasn’t a complete nervous wreck LOL! I know that Molly O’Neill at Harper Collins is looking for a MS just like yours, so be sure to look for her when your ready to submit.

We got to know each other at the recent NY SCBWI Conference. Yay! Most people know the standard perks of attending a conference, what do you think are some of the lesser known advantages that you’ve experienced?

Thanks for the tip! I’ll be sure to follow up on it.
I have to start with the caveat that I don’t think conferences are essential. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re helpful and great fun, but if a person was unable to go to such events because of financial reasons or life responsibilities, I don’t think it would make the difference between getting published and not getting published. We’re really lucky right now to live in a time when there are so many resources on the internet for learning about both the craft and business aspects of writing.
That being said, one thing I’ve enjoyed through conferences and conventions is being able to belong to two different communities of writers: the speculative sf/f community and the kidlit community. For me, nothing replaces the face-to-face experience of hanging out with other writers and people with similar interests. Having two communities is even better because some of their benefits are different! For instance, you can’t beat the kidlit community (SCBWI etc) for sheer friendliness and helpfulness. I didn’t know anyone at either of the two SCBWI conferences I’ve attended thus far, and people went out of their way to make me feel included and involved, which was fabulous. But on the other hand, the spec fic community so far has tended to talk a bit more about craft and to be really supportive of new writers developing their craft as they attempt to write fantasy and/or science fiction. And they have a much greater understanding of how fantasy and science fiction really work from a writer’s perspective, so you find a much greater understanding of issues that are especially important in those genres, like world building and developing rules for magic. In both communities, I’ve met people who have changed the way I think and feel, who challenge assumptions I might be accidentally making, and who are lots of fun to spend time with.
I like that a lot. You CAN write an amazing book without ever going to a conference. I also agree that they’re wonderful experiences and have enriched my writing life and my personal life. I’ve never really thought much about “other” writing communities and how they might bring different information to the table. I’m working on revisions for my first novel now, any favorite tips for world building that you’d like to share? I’m also a little curious about your thoughts on e-books. Do fantasy/sci-fi writers get more excited about the budding technology?

A few general resources for world building are SFWA Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and Orson Scott Card’s book on writing called How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy.
I think the very most important thing to remember about world building, particularly if you’re new to the fields of fantasy and scifi, is that it’s important to do a thorough job of it. For me, it can be really tempting to figure out a few exciting aspects of a world, and then do a lot of hand-waving in the hopes that the reader won’t notice any gaps. Unfortunately, this almost always reads as sloppy. Doing good world building takes time and the patience to ask a lot of questions, and once you have your questions (you can find some good ones at the sfwa link above), be dedicated to not always picking the most generic and/or obvious answers. Also, world building tends to be organic, so for example, if you decide that, in your world, there’s a lack of women, that’s going to effect all kinds of things in the way the society works, and not just the obvious “where do you get the next generation from?” question. It also sparks questions you’ll need to know about your world’s backstory and how this lack of women came to pass. (See Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go if you want one answer to this one.)
If you’re dealing with fantasy (which includes paranormal!), you also have to flesh out your magic system and make rules for it that you will follow no matter what. You need to know what’s possible using magic and what’s not, the different varieties of magic (perhaps the flavor of magic they teach in Houston is not the same as the one they teach in Paris, France), and the cost of magic (for vampires, the cost of their supernatural powers is weaknesses to sunlight, crosses, and garlic, the need for blood, and a penchant for not having a developed moral sense. Cinderella’s ball gown only lasts until midnight. Or maybe your character loses one year of her life for each huge spell she unleashes). Letting your characters have something for nothing (magic without a cost) is generally a Very Bad Idea. Magic should have a price and/or consequences like most other things worth having.
There’s also the info dumping problem. Let’s say you’ve spent hours/days/weeks putting together a vivid picture of your world, from its economics to its social and political structures to the cool magical powers that come from drinking apple juice. You’ve also spent even more days developing an incredibly exciting backstory of the world and what happened in its history and how your villain became so bad in the first place and how his father and the good guy’s father had a duel to the death years and years ago. And now you’re just dying to spill it all out to your reader and share this marvelous world you’ve built from sweat and wonder. No dice. A clever writer will build a vision of the world and backstory slowly over the course of the story instead of dumping it out in awkward paragraphs that don’t relate to the narrative. Some of your backstory may (gasp!) never come to light at all (famous example: Dumbledore’s sexual preference). You, the writer, need to know as much as possible about your world, but the reader only needs to know enough to follow the story and become enveloped in a sense of wonder.
Hmm, can you tell that I love to geek out about writing?
As for e-books, I personally own a Kindle, but I wonder sometimes if I got mine too early. The DRM issues with the Kindle are disturbing. Certainly there is a lot of talk about e-books and how they will influence the direction of publishing in scifi/fantasy circles, but I imagine they factor into a lot of conversations with most writers who are interested in the future of their industry (except maybe picture book writers!). Living in the Silicon Valley, on the other hand, I hear about the latest and greatest gadget on a regular basis. I think the direction of e-books is not yet clear enough to generate huge waves of excitement, although I know of a few published genre authors who are experimenting in the realms of electronic self-publishing of their out-of-print backlists or previously unpublished stories and novels.
I am pretty excited about the new tablet that Microsoft is developing, actually. It has two screens like a book and will allow you to write in it using a stylus (great for note taking on manuscripts!). Here’s a cool demo:
That was awesome on so many levels. I feel as if I just attended a really good workshop. Thank you for sharing. Before I let you go, I do need to know one more thing. What are your top 5 favorite books and how have they influenced you? No wrong answers here and I know that five is next to nothing for a book-o-phile, but we have to draw the line some where. :o)

You’re right, only choosing five is really hard! With the caveat that I’m leaving so many amazing books out, here are my five:
1. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomerie – I love this book on so many levels. I re-read the first three books of this series every year or two, and I never get tired of them. They’re like warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies: comfort food extraordinaire. I love all of the older children’s classics that feature young women who wish to become writers someday (Little Women, the Betsy-Tacy books, Daddy-long-legs, Emily of New Moon, etc.), but this is my favorite. I adore the character of Anne, I admire her courage, imagination, and unique and positive way of viewing the world, and I want to be just like her when I grow up.
2. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card – This was the first adult science fiction novel that I completely fell in love with. I still remember the first time I read it, in fact. Its portrayal of children as being in many ways just as intelligent (or more so) than adults is refreshing. I love that Ender uses his brains to solve his problems instead of his muscle, and his solutions are actually clever and make sense. I love that genius children are taken seriously on the Internet as political pundits, and I love the moral questions that come into play. This book speaks seriously about childhood, humanity, leadership, and the moral questions raised by genocide.
3. Beauty, by Robin McKinley – This was a tough call, because I love McKinley’s Blue Sword about the same amount. However, Beauty was my favorite first, so here it is. I read this around the time I read Ender’s Game, and these two books were my two very favorites for years afterwards. Beauty does an excellent job of taking the classic fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast (my favorite) and bringing it to life. The title character is extremely sympathetic, taking hardship in various forms throughout the book and creating a satisfying life in spite of (or because of) it. Interwoven throughout the book are her passions for horses, reading and study, and her family, and the story shows how those loves carry her through life regardless of other circumstances.
4. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen – Such a popular book, and yes, I prefer the A&E minseries over any of the movie versions. Besides my fondness of the setting, I love this book because Darcy is so awful at the beginning. Yes, you heard me right. He’s so awful, and then the reader gets to watch while his character slowly (and painfully) transforms into someone much more admirable. Elizabeth gets her own journey, but it’s Darcy’s that I find the most inspiring, because it illustrates that people can be influenced for good, and that sometimes we can do the influencing without even being aware that we’re doing it. Also, it’s a masterful romance in that it really keeps the tension of the romance going for the entire novel, without making either character act out of character or with incredible stupidity, which is easier said than done.
5. All of the mysteries by Agatha Christie, with a slight preference for the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot novels – I can’t possibly choose one Agatha Christie novel, so I’m choosing them all. I’ve been reading these novels as long as I can remember, and I turn back to them time and time again. In fact, I love them so much that I wrote an entire Agatha Christie-themed mystery party last fall drawing on many of the tropes she created in her works. I love her as a reader, and as a writer, I find there is much to learn from her about plotting, pacing, what to reveal when, and the final twist.
Thanks for taking the time for such a fun interview, Kim!
Thank you for sharing so much information. I need to put some of your top five on my To Read List. I also want to thank you for the info and links on world building, its relevant and useful at the moment. If you would like to continue following Amy Sundberg, you can find her on Facebook. Thanks Amy!

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