Monthly Archives: February 2017

Author Interview Kristin L. Gray

Kristin has a new middle grade novel coming out in just a few weeks called Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge. I can’t wait to read this book. It looks like such a sweet story. Kristin and I also have the same editor! {Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books} Which makes this interview even more exciting for me!

You have an awesome new book coming out this year called VILONIA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE. Can you tell us about it?

Sure! Fourth grader Vilonia hasn’t lost her rain coat in the three weeks she’s had it and she’s brushed her teeth every night and she’s volunteered to be the Friday Library Helper. But all that hard work is worth it if it means she can get a dog. Besides, this dog isn’t just because Vilonia has wanted one for pretty much ever. It’s also to help Mama, who’s been lost in one, big sadness fog for forty-three days—ever since Nana died. But Vilonia read that pets can help with sadness. Now all she has to do is keep the library goldfish alive over spring break, stop bringing stray animals home, and help Mama not get fired from her job. And she’s got to do all of it before the Catfish Festival. Easy as pie, right?

How did you come up with the idea?

Vilonia’s story morphed over time. I had the idea of a young girl adopting and nurturing a puppy born preterm. But once I began researching, I came across fascinating articles about pet therapy and how dogs actually help us. So Vilonia’s story quickly evolved into one of a dog helping her family overcome their grief. So yes, dogs can be therapy. (Though sometimes, my dogs drive me bananas, but I love them anyway.)

When is it released?

March 7. Soon!

What made you decide to start writing, and why did you choose children’s books?  

I distinctly remember falling in love with the humor in the CLICK CLACK MOO series as I read them aloud to my son. I thought I’d like to try that. So when I came across an ad for the Institute of Children’s Literature, I signed up. A few years later, I joined SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) which helped me tremendously. If anyone is serious about writing for children, my first suggestion is to join a local SCBWI chapter.

Tell us about your experience getting into publishing. How long did it take you? 

Oh boy. I started with picture books for a handful of years while my children were small. I got close to landing a contract a few times, but for whatever reason – it never panned out. Then one day, an editor who liked my voice wrote back and asked if I’d ever thought of trying anything longer, like a novel. So I did. And two manuscripts later, I had a first draft of Vilonia. Or put another way, I began dabbling in writing when my oldest son was in kindergarten. He is now a teenager and can drive a car! Publishing is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. Also, I’m old!

What writing advice do you have for someone trying to breakout in the market?

Read widely and read what’s new in stores. Libraries are wonderful of course, but to stay current, you need to be aware of what is selling into today’s market. But even then, listen to you heart. Write the book you want to see on the shelves. That passion will shine through.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

Reading! Sleeping! Traveling with my family and exploring new cities. I also like cooking. Okay, baking. I really like baking.

Do you listen to music when you write, if so, what’s your playlist like?

If I listen to music, it’s usually Adele. I love her. But I am a huge fan of the Coffitivity app which provides background noise as if you’re in a coffee shop. It’s so soothing to me. I sometimes use it even when I’m sitting in an actual coffee shop. Is that weird?

If you had to live inside one story’s universe, which would it be and why?

Oh man. Harry Potter. For its delightful magic, amazing friendships, fascinating creatures, and okay, the Burrow (the Weasley’s cozy home).

Everyone writes about people they know. Who shows up in your books over and over?

I think there’s a little bit of myself in Vilonia. I was a preemie and so is Vilonia. My dad is a fisherman, like Vilonia’s dad.

Who do you think your reader is?

I would like to imagine Vilonia being enjoyed by anyone no matter their age, but I especially hope she resonates with kids ages 8-12 who have a lot of moxie and compassion. Kids who love the outdoors, love to run barefoot in the summer, and who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get stuff done.

What are you working on now?

A quirky middle-grade mystery and a handful of picture book texts.
Where can we find out more about you and your upcoming book?

www.kristinlgray.com

Thanks so much for having me!

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Monday Evening!

I’m back.It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve written. Started teaching on Mondays and that means I always forget to write.

Boo!

Today? I have a few moments. And I share this! The critiques with the agent at full, however, Fly on the Wall has spaces on each day.

erin-harris-folio-photo-3

Agent Writing Workshop

with

Erin Harris, Literary Agent at Folio Jr.

A writing event for serious

(but still fun) writers

Erin Harris will kick off this two-day event for writers with a keynote speech at BYU:

“Everything You Want to Know about Working With an Agent”

Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

JFSB B190, Brigham Young University Campus

Free and open to the public

(First come, first serve. Sitting in aisles and doorways will NOT be permitted.)

 

2nd Annual Literary Agent Workshop

A Day with Erin Harris Workshop Schedule

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday February 23, 24, and 25, 2017

8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

 

Special Instructions 

  1. Private Consultations and Small-Group Critiques: You’ll find the Thursday through Saturday consultation-with-Erin schedules at the end of the day schedule and some tips on handling critique in a group setting.
  2. First Pages Critique: If you want to be considered for the first pages critique at the end of your workshop day (3:15 to 5:00 p.m.), email the first 250 to 300 words of a book of your choosing to cheriearl@gmail.com before Wednesday, February 22, 2017. We will choose the first pages to read at the time of the critique via a drawing. CAUTION: Be prepared to hear honest critique, which means you may not hear what you want to hear, and you may even get your feelings hurt. First pages critiques can be brutal, so consider carefully before you submit your 250 words.

 

Thursday through Saturday, February 23-25, 2017 

Detailed Day Schedule

 

8:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.: Check in time

 

9:00 to 9:50 

Introductions and presentation by Erin Harris

 

10:00 to 12:00

  • Private critiques with Erin begin
  • 10:00 to 12:00: Cheri and Carol’s Dog and Pony Show: Conflict, Characters, and Voice PLUS Why Good Things Happen to Bad Books: a Brutal Discussion That Will Most Likely Hurt Feelings

 

Noon to 1:30 p.m.: Potluck Lunch—mingle and make new friends. Sign up for critique groups. Get to know Erin and Cheri and Carol.

 

A-G- Please bring a main dish.

H-R- Please bring a side dish.

S-Z- Please bring a dessert.

1:15 to 3:15

  • Private critiques with Erin continue
  • 1:30 to 3:15: Put Your Writing Where Your Mouth Is: Writing Activities with Carol and Cheri

 

Potty Break at 3:15; you know who you are.

3:30 to 5:00

First Pages Critique: Not recommended for the faint hearted. *Submit first 250-300 words of your novel via email before Wednesday February 22; see special instructions.

 

5:00 to 5:30 

Final thoughts and Q&A with Erin

Want to join us?

For enrollment and payment information: contact Stephanie Moore at stephaniemoorewrites (at) gmail (dot) com (additional instructions when you enroll)

 

Which Writing Workshop experience would you like to have?

  1. Workshop with Private Critique. Full workshop plus a 15-minute critique session with Erin Harris (15 spaces only).  $110 ($99 for BYU Students and SCBWI members.)
  2. Fly-on-the-wall. Full workshop without a critique session. $35
  3. Small–Group Critique Session. , Cheri, or Carol will conduct each critique session, 4 writers each. (12 spaces only). $25 in addition to the workshop fees ($110, $99, or $25)

Bios

Erin Harris: Literary agent with Folio Jr, NYC (see more at foliojr.com)

Presenters:

Carol Lynch Williams (author of more than 30 mid-grade and YA books, BYU creative writing instructor)

Cheri Pray Earl (author of the Just in Time Series, BYU creative writing instructor)

 

 

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Valentines Writing

 

Today I do not want to write. I want someone to bring me a gigantic pink cookie. I want to float on a boat to the Caribbean. I want to sleep until my body doesn’t need sleep anymore.  I want to wash my hair in chocolate. And I want my book to be done.

Yesterday my dad got married for the second time. I wasn’t there for the first one. It was short and sweet and now they’re driving the country, going where ever they’d like to go on this beautiful Valentines Day. I’m so happy for them and also so floating like a balloon in the sky for them. It’s tough to grow up even when we’re already grown.

Do you want to write today? Will you write romance? Will you write passionate kisses? Will you write about second chances at love? I asked my husband if he was getting me a Valentine and he said, “I did. I fixed the washing machine.” And you know, it was love because the pump in that thing was full of many things: sludge, legos, paper clips, sludge, hair, body parts, sludge, cars, plastic dinosaurs, sludge and probably black mold that will kill him slowly. We probably saved 500 dollars and a doctor bill for a dead washing machine repair man. That is love. It’s better than pink cookies and boats in the sun and sleep and chocolately hair.

What if today was the last day of your life you’d ever get the chance to write about love, what would you write?

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Interview with Rosalyn Eves

Today’s author interview is with the awesome Rosalyn Eves! Rosalyn has a new book coming out next month called BLOOD ROSE REBELLION Even though I know she’s super busy, she was kind enough to chat with me!

 

You have an awesome new book coming out in a few weeks! 
Can you tell us about it? How you came up with the idea? When is it released? 

BLOOD ROSE REBELLION is a YA historical fantasy—think the 1848 Hungarian revolution, but with magic. I lived in Hungary for a year and a half in my twenties and fell in love with the culture, so when I started thinking about a Victorian era fantasy, it seemed like a natural setting. The book comes out March 28, 2017.
What made you decide to start writing, and why did you choose children’s books?  

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was eleven and my fifth grade teacher told me I might be good at it. I’ve always loved young adult books—I love how intense the feelings are and I love the feeling of possibility when your whole life is still in front of you. That said, the first book I finished as an adult was a middle grade manuscript that I started for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers in 2010.
Tell us about your experience getting into publishing. How long did it take you?

A long time! I wrote my first “book” in junior high, and another (really, a trilogy) in high school—but then I stopped writing while I finished college, went to grad school, and started a family. It was after my second kid was born that I realized that my dream of someday being a writer wasn’t going to happen if I didn’t start now. That was six and a half years ago.
What writing advice do you have for someone trying to breakout in the market?

Read a lot—in your genre and outside of it. And write a lot. There aren’t really any shortcuts for those two things.
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I like reading (of course!) and watching period dramas on TV. I also like hiking and I’m lucky to live in a really gorgeous area for that.

Do you listen to music when you write, if so, what’s your playlist like?

I can’t listen to music when I write—it’s too distracting for me. But I did listen to a lot of Hamilton in between revision sessions on this.

If you had to live inside one story’s universe, which would it be and why?

I’d love to visit Lois Bujold’s Barrayar, which is such a fascinating mixture of high technology and an almost Victorian feudal sensibility.
Everyone writes about people they know. Who shows up in your books over and over?

This may be cheesy, but I think a bit of my husband shows up in the love interest—especially  his steadiness and his scientific mind.

Who do you think your reader is?
What do you imagine him or her to be like?

I think my reader is a lot like me at sixteen—more adventurous in books than in real life.

What are you working on now?

The sequel to Blood Rose Rebellion, which picks up about 8 months after the first.

Where can we find out more about you and your upcoming book?

http://rosalyneves.com/

 

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Magic Monday

 

For the first time in years I’m thinking about being in a critique group again.

I used to be in one.

For years I was with Rick Walton.

I met Cheri there. And Ken Baker and Randall Wright. The list goes on and on.

 

I always have so many excuses to doing this–I’m too busy, too tired, too behind.

But.

But this time, maybe, I’ll do something for me and my writing.

 

It’s scary.

It’s time-consuming.

It’s a lot of work.

But I need it.

 

What have you done for you and your writing?

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Three Thing Thursday

LoriAnne:

Quality or Quantity?

                In every writing class I’ve taken, the question of quality or quantity comes up. Each of us has to grapple with it.  I tend to go over and over the same first couple chapters, thinking I can’t move forward in the story until the first few on chapters are perfectly polished. Do I do this because I don’t  believe I know where the story is “supposed” to go? That I can’t move on there’s a perfect beginning? Do I not trust myself?

I get in my own way and don’t make enough progress toward finishing the dang draft, and in truth, spinning my wheels on those same pages doesn’t help me become a better writer.

 I came across a writing tip that was linked to a study about a high school pottery teacher’s teaching technique. How could he help his students produce better pottery?

He required half the class to produce one perfect pot. The other half was required to produce fifty pounds of pottery by the end of semester. The pots didn’t have to be perfect, there just needed to be fifty pounds of work.

What this teacher found is that those who had to do just one perfect pot got hung up. They threw the same pot over and over. Those who had to produce the quantity, learned what worked and what didn’t. By the end of the semester, they could throw a perfect pot.

So, the more chapters you write, the better your writing will become.  I’m too close to it right now, but I know that I’ve just got to show up every day and write something new. Soon, I hope, I’ll be able to ‘throw’ a better chapter.

Carol:
Ann Dee has decided to try things that scare her. She is brave. I bet she did a great handstand.
I love this challenge when it comes to writing.
This past year I started a murder mystery. I’ve never done this kind of book before, so that has been scary.
But there’s more about this project that scares me. This is a YA. How much of this raw story should I put on the page? How do I make the murdered character likable (for a while there, she deserved to be killed because she was acting so nasty)? What happens if my editor doesn’t like this book?
What are you working on that scares you?

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