Posts Tagged ‘Anica Rissi’




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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