Tag Archives: author interview

Interview with author Susanna Leonard Hill; & book giveaway!

I am excited today to welcome you to my interview with author Susanna Leonard Hill! This interview is part of the blog tour that Susanna is doing for her picture books being released this month. Please read my review of When Your Lion Needs a Bath, and later my upcoming reviews of When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles (review on July 11), and The Road That Trucks Built (review on July 18.)    Now, allow me to introduce our guest author …

Welcome to my interview corner, Susanna! I’m happy to be participating in two back-to-back blog tours for your … not one, not two, but THREE new books coming out this month! Thank you for doing this interview at such an exciting time.

First, please tell our readers a little about yourself.

Hmm… a little about myself…

  • I was born in New York City.
  • I have two brothers and one sister.
  • I once poked my kindergarten teacher with an umbrella.
  • Wasps and ticks give me the heebie-jeebies.
  • The year I turned 9 my birthday was on Easter Sunday – which never happened before or since.
  • Red is my favorite color of jelly bean.
  • At summer camp I drank Orange Crush out of the can with a Twizzler.
  • I love to play with words – writing, of course, but also word games of all kinds.
  • I went to school for a really long time for advanced degrees I don’t use much when writing about bath-averse lions, little girls who won’t sleep, and opinionated groundhogs 🙂
  • I know all the words to the Gilligan’s Island and Partridge Family Theme Songs. (Though I am uncertain about the PIN# of my ATM card. 🙂
  • I have five amazing kids.
  • If it’s made of chocolate, I love it. 🙂
  • On my last school visit the popular guess on how old I am was 100. Seriously.

And you have a wonderful sense of humour, I’d say. 🙂  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you?

It probably sounds trite, but I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  (Well, after the phase where I wanted to drive a steam roller… 🙂 )  I grew up in a house full of books and I was always read to, so I had a very early love of picture books and there was something about them that just called to me.  I wanted to write one.  I wanted my name to be on a book because I had written it.  And something about writing helps me think.  I am far more comfortable writing than speaking!

I’m sure we’re all very glad you chose writing instead of operating a steam roller! 🙂  As a writer, do you do much reading? Who were/are your favourite authors or books or genres?

I have always read a lot.  When I was little I read Pippi Longstocking, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, the Little House books, the Anne of Green Gables series, every single Nancy Drew mystery, and every horse book I could get my hands on… just to name a few…!  Nowadays I read a wide variety – I like mysteries, action, adventure, fantasy – Jack Reacher, Game of Thrones, etc. – but I also read and like a lot of YA.

Have you ever felt like giving up? When did you finally believe in
yourself so you can say “I am a writer”?

I have never felt like giving up writing.  I love to write.  I need to write.  But I have felt like giving up submitting.  It can be very discouraging.  I am not a person with a lot of self-confidence, so I’m not sure even now that I believe in myself.  But I did start identifying myself as a writer after my fourth book was published.  At that point I felt like, somehow, I was at least a little bit legitimate.

I understand about the submitting. Do you have a favourite motto or quote or Bible verse that you try to live by and that helps to keep you going?

I don’t know if I do exactly… that’s an interesting question.  The quote at the top of my Face Book page is one I like a lot – “Live well.  Laugh often.  Love much.”

That’s a very good one to live by as it affects one’s attitude positively. How do you consistently write? Do you have writing goals .. daily? weekly? monthly? long-range?

I write because I love to write.  I can’t really say that I have specific goals or a specific schedule.  Creativity takes a lot of energy, so there are times when life is busy and a day or a week will go by when I don’t write anything new.  And sometimes life is hard, and that can rob me of creativity as well.  But in general, writing is one of the things I look forward to – not that it’s easy! – but, as I’m sure is the case for many writers (and other creatives – artists, musicians, etc.), it fills a need in me and is something I can’t stay away from for long.

Yes, I agree, it does take a lot of energy. What other interests do you have for a change from writing?

I love to be outdoors.  I like to walk, run, and hike.  I love animals – dogs and horses in particular – and I love to ride, although I don’t have time for it as often as I’d like.  I play the piano (when it isn’t so covered in books that I can’t get to the keys 🙂 ) and I love to read.

All great ways to restore that creative energy. What have you had published thus far, and what do you remember about the very first time you were published?

THE HOUSE THAT MACK BUILT (Little Simon, 2002)
TAXI! (Little Simon 2005)
PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS (Holiday House 2005)
NO SWORD FIGHTING IN THE HOUSE (Holiday House 2007)
NOT YET, ROSE (Eerdmans Books For Young Readers 2009)
AIRPLANE FLIGHT (Little Simon 2009)
FREIGHT TRAIN TRIP (little Simon 2009)
CAN’T SLEEP WITHOUT SHEEP (Walker/Bloomsbury 2010)
APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS! (Holiday House 2011)
BEER IS ZO MOE! (Veltman Uitgevers  2011) – available in Dutch only
WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH (Little Simon 2017)
WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES (Little Simon 2017)
THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT (Little Simon 2017)

Every time I get a call from my agent saying she has an offer, it’s like a dream come true.  I can’t believe how lucky I am that an editor liked something I wrote enough to get behind it and share it with the world.  And I feel grateful that there will be another book (because I never EVER take that for granted!)

But there’s something extra-special about the very first time. 🙂

I had gone from remedial language tutoring with dyslexic kids to being a full-time stay-at-home mom after my youngest was born. I had been writing for kids for a couple years in my “spare time” (2 AM by the bathroom nightlight, you know, that kind of spare time 🙂 ), and found my agent by serendipity (but that’s a story for another day!) and she had sent a couple of my manuscripts out on submission a few months earlier.

One cold, gray January day in the early afternoon, when one child was at first grade and two were napping, the phone rang.  It was Liza (my amazing and wonderful friend and agent.)

“So,” she said, with a smile in her voice, “I have an offer for you!”

My heart stopped.

I couldn’t breathe.

Her words wouldn’t sink in!

“What?” I stammered intelligently.

“Erin Molta at Little Simon wants to buy The House That Mack Built!” she said.

In a haze of unreality, I scribbled notes about the details of the deal, then hung up the phone in disbelief.  My heart was so full I couldn’t hold it in, but the babies were sleeping and every parent on earth knows you never want to wake a sleeping child!

So I hugged this wonderful, amazing, unbelievable news to myself, fist-pumped the air, squealed a silent “SQUEEEE!!!” in my head, and on light bare feet raced a lap or two of the downstairs of my house, overflowing with excited energy!

I was going to be published!

There was going to be a book with my name on it!

It was, quite literally, a dream come true and one of the best moments of my life!

I feel the excitement in your relating of it for us, Susanna! What process do you go through when writing and perfecting your work?

I write every first draft with pen and paper.  I think better with the physical act of forming letters 🙂  Once I have a draft, I type it into the computer, revising as I go.

Then I revise again.

Then I revise again.

Then I revise again.

You get the idea. 🙂

Until I feel like the manuscript is as strong as I can make it.

At that point, I usually give it to a trusted critique partner or two to read and comment on.  Occasionally I send it to an editor friend to critique for me.

When I feel like the manuscript is as ready as I can get it, I send it to my agent.

Sometimes she says, “This is great!  I’ll send it to so-and-so!”  Other times she tells me she thinks it could work if I change the ending or strengthen the conflict or something, in which case I take a crack at it.  But sometimes she just doesn’t see potential and doesn’t think she can sell it, and I have to chalk it up to an idea I couldn’t make work.  For now… 🙂

I, too, hand-write most of my drafts. The process of actual writing is healthier for the brain, a serious consideration.     I admire your work ethic and determination. What method do you use to keep track of your writing ideas?

I’m afraid there isn’t much in the way of “method” or “keeping track”! 🙂  I scribble things on random scraps of paper which litter my desk in piles!  If the occasion arises when I’m scrambling for ideas, I rummage through the piles! 🙂  I would include a photo of my desk, but I don’t want you to have nightmares. 🙂

Haha! You wouldn’t want to see my desk! I’ve found buried notes and thought … oh, wow, did I write this? It could be a good idea! 🙂 What inspired you to write your three newest books? When Your Lion Needs a Bath; When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles; The Road That Trucks Built.

I think I mentioned that I have 5 kids. 🙂  That pretty much sums it up. 🙂

A large percentage of my ideas come from life with my children who, I’m sure you will be shocked to know 🙂 , frequently objected to baths and haircuts and bedtime and were sometimes miserable with sniffles. So the WHEN YOUR… books came from a lot of those moments.  THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT was inspired by two things: my son, who as a toddler was so enamored of construction vehicles that one of his first words was “mass excavator”, and a good friend who actually builds roads.

There’s inspiration all around us, if we’ll only see it. 🙂  Approximately how long did it take you to write each of the three books? Did you have to do much research for any of them? Is there something specific you’d like to share about each of them?

You know, this will sound terrible, but I’m not really sure how long it took me to write each book!  I know I got the basic idea down and then went through several rounds of revision, much of it focused on tightening the text.  As for research, well, in the case of LION and ELEPHANT I’d pretty much done that over the course of 20 years as a parent. 🙂  And in the case of TRUCKS, my son picked out the books he wanted me to read to him and I read them…research as a bonus of reading with my child. 🙂

It all works! 🙂  The illustrations for each are wonderful. Did you get to share your vision with the illustrators of your books?

I never get to speak with my illustrators during the creation of the book.  But in the case of LION and ELEPHANT, I did include a fair number of art notes because the text was fairly brief and much of the humor depended on what was shown in the art in relation to what was said in the text, so I had to make sure my vision was clear.  Daniel did an absolutely fantastic job.  I couldn’t be happier!  His illustrations are exactly right for these stories! 🙂  I did not include such notes for Erica for TRUCKS, but even without my helpful instructions 🙂 she did a fantastic job!

I agree! Both illustrators did fabulous work. How ever did you manage to get three books published so close together? And along with that how did you go about finding a publisher? an editor? or did you have an agent to handle that for you? (You mentioned her earlier.)

The fact that these books are coming out so close together is just luck of the draw!  Since WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH and WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES are the start of a series, the editor wanted to release them together.  The third series title will release on January 2, 2018, and the fourth in Fall 2018.  THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT was edited by a different editor in the same house!  I don’t know how often that happens – it has never happened to me before – but somehow the books were all just ready at the same time.  I do have an agent – the wonderful and talented Liza Voges of Eden Street Lit without whom I wouldn’t be where I am today!– and she was in charge of submissions.

That’s amazing! What is it about writing children’s books that appeals to you?

Everything is new to children.  They are still full of curiosity and wonder.  I love writing for people who are so eager to absorb and for whom you can make a difference.  Because along with the positive side of newness, children have a lot to learn about the world and their place in it, and that can sometimes feel a little frightening, confusing, overwhelming, or lonely.  Books can help children understand both how things work and that they’re not alone in their experiences and feelings.  If I can help one child feel more comfortable with the arrival of a new sibling, or laugh over having the sniffles instead of feeling plain miserable, I feel like I did a good thing.  And just the opportunity to make reading an enjoyable experience for kids – something they can carry with them – is very appealing.

I like your heart. What do you do to help and encourage others in their writing goals?

I teach an online picture book writing class called Making Picture Book Magic, which I try to make accessible and affordable and doable time-wise, and which I hope is helpful to those who take it.  I also write a blog with features that allow writers to practice pitching (Would You Read It Wednesday), do a fun writing exercise together (Short & Sweets), or ask questions about the picture book writing life and craft (Oh Susanna!).  I also run several writing contests a year on my blog for which I try to include prizes such as critiques by editors, agents, and authors.  I also offer critiques of picture book manuscripts.

I plan to take your writing class at some point and have been urged by other writers because they’ve found it to be so good. I’ve only added my comment once in your pitching help, and I’ve participated in two of your writing contests. I’ll be back to try more! 🙂 Do you have other projects in the works? If so, can you give our readers any hints?

I have a couple more books coming out over the next 2 years …

  • WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT (Little Simon January 2, 2018)
    WHEN YOUR MONKEYS WON’T GO TO BED (Little Simon Fall 2018)
    ALPHABEDTIME! (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House Spring 2019)
  • MOON DREAMS (Sourcebooks Spring 2019)

– those are all to some degree works-in-progress because there may well still be a call for edits on one or more of them.  Aside from those, I have a few other manuscripts I’m kicking around that are not ready for humans yet, although my dogs have had to listen to them innumerable times. 🙂

That’s actually FOUR more books, Susanna! How fortunate you are. As for dogs, they make a considerate audience; my little one tips her head attentively when I read anything out loud. 🙂 Is being a writer/author all you had hoped or thought it would be?

You know, Lynn, it really is – for me.  I love to write.  I am grateful that my circumstances allow me to do what I love, even though what I earn is more supplemental income than making a living.  I have been incredibly fortunate to be published, and that has allowed me to teach writing, which I love to do, and to do school visits which I also love, and to write a blog where I get to be part of a lovely community of like-minded folks.  So yes.  If anything it’s more than I thought it would be 🙂

I’m so glad for you.  Do you have any advice for hopefuls?

My advice is probably much the same as what you’ve heard from other writers.  Read as much as you can in the genre you hope to be published in.  Practice your writing.  Read good books on writing craft.  Take some writing courses if you can – online or in person.  Join SCBWI and go to some writing conferences.  Join a critique group. Write.  Write.  And write some more!  And if you really want to be published, never give up.  Keep improving your writing.  Keep trying.  Keep submitting.  Because the best idea ever won’t sell if you never bring yourself to write it and send it out into the world. 🙂

Thank you, Susanna, for an insightful interview. It’s been fun. 🙂

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Lynn, and for doing so much this month to give my new books a good start!

It’s truly my pleasure. 🙂   And now …

Susanna Leonard Hill and her publisher, Little Simon, are offering to one of you a copy of When Your LION Needs a BATH! Yay!!!

The rules are simple. Leave a comment on this post telling how you would coax your lion into the bath, and your name will be entered into the draw. 🙂 You have until Saturday, July 15, at 9:00 PM EST to enter. Using the “random name picker” I will select one name, and the next morning – Sunday, July 16 – I will announce the winner. Be sure to check your email Saturday night because I will be contacting the winner for a mailing address.

Check out Susanna’s blog for fun things including the schedule for the other participating blogs in her tour.  More from Susanna:

Website
Blog - watch a fun trailer for When Your Lion Needs a Bath
Making Picture Book Magic (online writing class)

Don’t delay, comment today! And please pass the news on to your friends; post on Twitter, FaceBook, or what ever way you communicate with the world. We thank you.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Advertisements

A reminder; my writing, & an invitation

Today I’m writing to remind you to put your name into the draw for Melanie Florence’s book, Missing Nimâmâ. Even if you think it would not interest you because of … whatever reason … please enter the draw and in that way be supportive of authors. If you are the winner you have a book to donate to an elementary school library or your local public library. It really is a beautiful book.

Read my review of Missing Nimâmâ

Read my interview with Melanie Florence and enter the draw.

On another note …

As you know, I joined the 12×12 challenge again this year. (I participated in its initial year – 2012 – and again in 2016.) The challenge is to write a new story draft each month, and do a revision of a draft each month. Amazingly, so far I have kept up with writing new drafts, and, although my revisions have been less than five to date, I should be able to remedy that this month. My problem is that when I sit down to work on a revision of a previously written story I come up with a totally new one! What’s up with that?

As you can see on my main page here, I am a member of Inscribe. This month I accepted the challenge of writing a 500-word story, everything included (title, any scripture used, and so on) using a prompt assigned to me. I have until midnight (actually, it’s 1:00 AM for me but I hope to be sleeping long before that!) of May 12 to send in my submission, and so far I have ideas written down which I have yet to work into a sensible story. This is not for picture books.

Another writing opportunity was offered me which I have been mulling over, but as yet I’m not settled on anything for it. Maybe the time isn’t right yet.

Last weekend I visited a local independent bookstore and met two local authors. It was an all-day event with several authors taking different times of the day to meet with people and chat up books they like. Following that I enjoyed an early lunch with another writer friend, after which we attended an information session put on by WFNS (Writers Federation of Nova Scotia, of which I’m a member). During it I learned that I have absorbed more knowledge than I’d been aware I knew! Most of the information given us I have learned over the past few years, much of it through 12×12 and its extensions. It’s encouraging to realize I’m actually taking it in when I often feel it’s zooming right past me. 

On yet another note …

Author Laura Best has a third middle grade novel just released! Cammie Takes Flight. I was excited to recently receive an invitation to her May 13 book launch which I hope to be able to attend. I appreciate paper invitations – helps me remember better in my jumbled up life. 🙂 Of course, you know this means another book review coming up eventually. (I have several books in queue now to be read and reviewed.)

That’s it for this time. I’ll leave you with these words by Stephen King, “If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

What have you read lately? And/or what writing project are you working on?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

Interview with Melanie Florence, and a book giveaway!

It’s amazing to me that I haven’t interviewed anyone on my blog since 2014! Today I have the remedy for that shortfall.

It’s my great pleasure to introduce to you Canadian author Melanie Florence who wrote Missing Nimâmâ – the award-winning picture book that I reviewed on April 25. See my review HERE.

Welcome to my blog, Melanie, and thank you for doing this
interview. Please tell us a little about yourself. 

I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO SAY! THAT’S ALWAYS THE HARDEST QUESTION. UMMM…I’M A FULL-TIME WRITER. I LIVE IN TORONTO WITH MY FAMILY. I LIKE HARRY POTTER AND DOCTOR WHO AND I CAN NEVER FIGURE OUT HOW TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION. 😉
Good answer, though. The questions get easier as we go along. 🙂
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you?
I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A WRITER. I WROTE STORIES WHEN I WAS A LITTLE GIRL OR WOULD TAKE A STORY I HAD READ AND REWRITE IT SO I WOULD HAVE A PART IN IT AS WELL. I THOUGHT I’D GO LIVE BESIDE STEPHEN KING AND TRADE IDEAS AND WRITE GREAT BOOKS THAT PEOPLE LOVED TO READ.
Now, that’s impressive – rewriting stories you’d read and writing yourself into them, I mean. You’ve proven you don’t need Stephen King as your neighbour to write great books. 🙂 As a writer, do you do much reading? Who were/are your favourite authors or books?
OF COURSE! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE HARRY POTTER SERIES. I’VE ALSO READ J.K. ROWLING’S BOOKS THAT SHE WROTE AS ROBERT GALBRAITH AND LOVED THOSE AS WELL. I’M A STEPHEN KING FAN. I LOVE NEIL GAIMAN AND KENNETH OPPEL. BASICALLY ANYONE WHO CAN WEAVE A WONDERFUL STORY THAT I CAN DISAPPEAR INTO.
Have you ever felt like giving up? When did you finally believe in yourself so you can say “I am a writer”?
ABSOLUTELY. WRITING IS HARD! I’M REALLY NOT SURE WHEN I COULD COMFORTABLY CALL MYSELF A WRITER – BUT I STILL DOUBT MYSELF SOMETIMES. I ALWAYS WONDER IF I’LL SELL MY NEXT BOOK. OR TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHICH IDEA IS THE RIGHT ONE TO WORK ON NEXT. ANY JOB WHERE YOU HAVE TO RELY ON SOMEONE ELSE IS TOUGH. 
Do you have a favourite motto or quote or Bible verse that you try to live by and that helps to keep you going?
NOT REALLY. I FEEL LIKE I SHOULD COME UP WITH ONE NOW! MAYBE “But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
I had to Google that quote … Albus Dumbledore of Harry Potter fame. It’s a good quote.
What do you remember about the very first time you were published? How did that come about?
OH MAN. WHAT A CRAZY TIME! I HAD ACTUALLY SENT IN A GRANT APPLICATION FOR A YA NOVEL I WAS WORKING ON AND HAD AN EDITOR CONTACT ME ABOUT IT. ALTHOUGH I WAS WORKING ON THAT, THEY ASKED IF I HAD ANY INTEREST IN WRITING A SPORTS BIOGRAPHY ON AN INDIGENOUS ATHLETE. I SAID YES AND DECIDED ON JORDIN TOOTOO. WITHIN A WEEK, THEIR SISTER COMPANY ASKED IF I WAS INTERESTED IN WRITING A HISTORY OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AND RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS AND AGAIN, I SAID YES. SO I SOLD MY FIRST TWO BOOKS WITHIN A WEEK. I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW EXCITING IT WAS TO SEE MY NAME ON A BOOK FOR THE FIRST TIME. IT’S STILL KIND OF EXCITING ACTUALLY.
WOW!! That’s amazing! Many writers would love to be in that position.
What have you had published thus far, and of those what have you most enjoyed writing?
HMM. MY SECOND PICTURE BOOK IS COMING OUT IN SEPTEMBER. MY THIRD NON-FICTION BOOK IS COMING OUT IN…ALSO SEPTEMBER, I THINK. AND MY…FIFTH??? NOVEL COMES OUT IN MAY. I ENJOYED WRITING ALL OF THEM. 🙂
Congratulations for taking the writing world by storm!
What process do you go through when writing and perfecting your work?
I DON’T THINK IT’S EVER PERFECT IN MY OWN HANDS…THAT’S WHAT MY EDITORS ARE FOR. I TRY TO CREATE A GOOD OUTLINE (I DIDN’T OUTLINE MY FIRST COUPLE OF BOOKS. IT’S MUCH EASIER TO OUTLINE THEM.) AND WORK FROM THAT. I TRY TO JUST SIT DOWN AND WRITE WITHOUT OVERTHINKING OR GOING BACK TO FIX THINGS. THAT HAPPENS LATER.
What method do you use to keep track of your writing ideas?
NOTEBOOKS! I HAVE A TON OF NOTEBOOKS THAT I’VE BEEN JOTTING IDEAS AND WRITING BITS AND PIECES IN FOR YEARS. IT’S HARD TO FIND THE RIGHT ONE LATER THOUGH. SOMETIMES I TYPE THEM INTO MY PHONE FOR LATER TOO.
You do better than I do. My ideas are definitely in need of better filing.
What inspired you to write Missing Nimâmâ? And why a children’s book?
I WAS READING ABOUT MMIW – OR TRYING TO – AND NOT FINDING MUCH. I COULDN’T BELIEVE THAT IT WASN’T BEING COVERED IN THE NEWS. NO ONE SEEMED TO CARE ABOUT THESE WOMEN OR THEIR FAMILIES. THEY DIDN’T HAVE A VOICE AND I WANTED TO GIVE THEM ONE. SO I WROTE MISSING NIMAMA. I REMEMBER SITTING IN MY EDITOR’S OFFICE, LOOKING AT THE STAMP COLLECTOR (WHICH SHE ALSO EDITED) AND SAYING “SOMEONE NEEDS TO WRITE A BOOK LIKE THIS ABOUT MMIW”. WE KIND OF BRAINSTORMED FROM THERE. WHY A CHILDREN’S BOOK? I DON’T KNOW. I HAD ALREADY WRITTEN A YA NOVEL ABOUT THE ISSUE. SOMEHOW I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A BEAUTIFUL STORY AS A PICTURE BOOK IF I COULD TELL IT THE RIGHT WAY.
For our readers: MMIW stands for “missing & murdered Indigenous women.”
You definitely told it in the right way. Did you have to do much research? Was it hard to write? If so, how did you stick with it and why? How did you come up with that title?
I HAD ALREADY DONE MY RESEARCH FOR ANOTHER BOOK ON THE SAME SUBJECT AND I’M A MOM. SO I WROTE IT FROM THAT PLACE – BEING A MOTHER AND CONSIDERING THE EFFECT IT WOULD HAVE ON MY DAUGHTER IF I WASN’T HERE ANYMORE. IT WAS INCREDIBLY HARD AND EMOTIONALLY DRAINING. BUT I REALLY FELT IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR ME TO WRITE IT. I THINK I CAME UP WITH MISSING MOTHER AND MY EDITOR THOUGHT USING THE CREE WORD FOR MOTHER WOULD BE BETTER. SO WE CALLED IT MISSING NIMAMA.
You said earlier you found your first publisher when you applied for a grant. How did you go about finding an editor? and do you have an agent?

I WAS ALREADY WORKING WITH MY EDITOR, CHRISTIE, ON ANOTHER PROJECT. ACTUALLY, I THINK WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT A POTENTIAL PROJECT. SHE LOVED THE IDEA OF THIS BOOK BUT THE PUBLISHER SHE WAS WITH AT THE TIME DIDN’T PUBLISH PICTURE BOOKS. SHE KINDLY OFFERED TO LOOK AT IT AS I WROTE AND GIVE FEEDBACK AND HELP ME FIND A PUBLISHER. WITHIN A FAIRLY SHORT TIME, SHE LEFT HER JOB AND STARTED HER OWN COMPANY, CLOCKWISE PRESS. SHE CONTACTED ME AND ASKED IF I WANTED TO WRITE IT FOR HER. SO THAT’S HOW I FOUND MY EDITOR AND PUBLISHER. 🙂 I DO HAVE AN AGENT IN THE U.S. NOW, SO THE PROCESS FOR ANYTHING I WORK ON NOW IS MUCH DIFFERENT. I FOUND MY AGENT THE GOOD OLD FASHIONED WAY – I WAS ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR AN AGENT AND SUBMITTED TO A BUNCH. I GOT OFFERS FROM A COUPLE AND PICKED ONE I FELT I COULD WORK WITH BEST.

What a fortunate string of events!

Did you have to change this story much for it to be accepted as a children’s book?

NOT AT ALL. I HAD A GREAT EDITOR WHO WANTED IT TO BE AS IMPACTFUL AS POSSIBLE, AS DID I. WE DIDN’T WANT TO SUGAR COAT IT. WE WANTED IT TO BE AUTHENTIC AND I HOPE THAT’S WHAT WE DID. GRIEF ISN’T SOMETHING THAT JUST OLDER PEOPLE EXPERIENCE. CHILDREN EXPERIENCE IT TOO. AND FINDING THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES IN BOOKS IS IMPORTANT.
Missing Nimâmâ is a beautifully told story about a very sensitive issue here in Canada, and also in the United States. You have brought attention to a tragic situation on a level for children to understand. Please tell us, what honours has this book received thus far?
THANK YOU! WE WON THE TD CANADIAN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE AWARD AND IT’S SHORT LISTED FOR THE FOREST OF READING GOLDEN OAK AWARD. WE WERE A BEST BOOK FOR KIDS AND TEENS WITH THE CCBC. I KNOW THERE’S ANOTHER BUT I’M DRAWING A BLANK.
Okay, I went searching. It’s quite a list! The ones you didn’t mention are: 2017 Storytelling World Resource Awards winner, Stories for Adolescent Listeners category (if this isn’t the same as the best book for kids & teens with CCBC); 2017 Notable Books for a Global Society Award winner; 2016 OLA Best Bets Honourable Mention.
How do you consistently write? Do you have writing goals .. daily? weekly? monthly? long-range?
OH MAN. I HATE TO ADMIT IT BUT I’M WILDLY DISORGANIZED. I SHOULD HAVE A WRITING PLAN OR GOAL BUT I DON’T. I WORK GREAT UNDER DEADLINE BUT NOT AS WELL WITHOUT ONE. I THINK THAT WILL ACTUALLY BE MY GOAL. TO SET UP A CONSISTENT WRITING PLAN! I ALWAYS HAVE A TO DO LIST GOING. THAT HELPS.
To-do lists are great. What other interests do you have for a change from writing?
MOSTLY, I JUST HANG OUT WITH MY FAMILY AND DO MOM STUFF. I’M A BIG DOCTOR WHO FAN AND SO IS MY DAUGHTER, SO WE’RE WORKING THROUGH THE SERIES TOGETHER. MY SON LIKES IT ALSO BUT HE DECIDED TO WATCH FROM A DIFFERENT POINT.
Do you have other projects in the works? If so, can you give our readers any hints?
ALWAYS! I’VE GOT A NEW MIDDLE GRADE (HOPEFULLY FUNNY) NOVEL HALF-WRITTEN, A NON-FICTION MIDDLE GRADE OUT ON SUBMISSION WITH MY AGENT AND I’VE GOT A COUPLE OF OTHER IDEAS RUMINATING.
Thanks for sharing about your books to look for later. 🙂
Is being a writer/author all you had hoped or thought it would be?
ABSOLUTELY. I LOVE WHAT I DO!
It shows.
And finally, do you have any advice for hopefuls?
WRITE! SIT DOWN AND WRITE. EVEN IF YOU DON’T THINK IT’S ANY GOOD, KEEP WRITING. AND READ. READ AS MANY BOOKS IN THE SAME GENRE YOU WANT TO WRITE. AND OTHER GENRES. READ GREAT BOOKS. TAKE A WRITING CLASS. FIND OTHER WRITERS TO CRITIQUE YOUR WORK. JOIN CANSCAIP!

 

* CANSCAIP = Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators & Performers
Thank you, Melanie, for that excellent advice! This has been a fun and informative interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this in the midst of preparing for a book tour.
 

Now, as if all this has not been exciting enough, I am thrilled to be able to offer someone a copy of Melanie Florence‘s picture book! 

Readers, now it’s your turn. If you would like to have a chance to win a copy of “Missing Nimama” by Melanie Florence, please leave a comment about anything you found especially interesting or helpful in the above interview. Huge thanks to Melanie’s publisher, Clockwise Press, who has generously agreed to send one of you a copy of Missing Nimama – anywhere in Canada or continental USA.

You have until 6:00 PM EST on May 13 to enter the draw. Then one name will be selected using the “random name picker” tool. The next morning, Mother’s Day, May 14, I will post the winner’s name so check your email Saturday night because I will be contacting the winner for a mailing address.

 
Don’t delay, comment today! And please pass the news on to your friends, post on Twitter or however you communicate with the world.
Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Interview with Walter Danley, & 5 books to give away!

WalterDanley400x600It is my pleasure to welcome and introduce to you author Walter Danley. Read my review of his first novel, The Tipping Point,hereWalter Danley has been living an interesting life, highlights of which you can read on his website noted at the end of this post. Even so, Walter claims his proudest accomplishments are his five grown sons. He credits the wonderful influence of their stepmother, Christopher Norris, Broadway, film, and television actress. Walter and Christopher were married for eighteen years during the boys’ formative years. 

Walter kindly obliged me with an interview and offered five books to give away, so don’t be shy about leaving him questions or comments. He looks forward to it. Now, let’s move on with the interview.

Walter, I appreciate your agreeing to this interview. To start things off, please tell us a little about yourself.

Lynn, that could take all the time you have scheduled for this interview because I spent more than four decades in the business of commercial real estate investments. Now, I have the ability to write suspense thrillers rather than to live them! My home is in the Lone Star State of Texas. I love it there and, maybe it’s the air, I write better there. Wait, that didn’t come out right. I didn’t mean to say that my writing is better in Texas, what I intended to say is that my demeanor is more inclined to the craft of writing in the Texas Hill Country.

It’s good you have a place that positively affects your writing. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you? or discouraged you?

The first time I tried retirement, back in ’86, was a great opportunity to start to write. Speaking of conducive atmospheres to write, that was one of the best. My partners and I had just sold our investment business, (there were forty (40) different businesses under the firm’s banner that we sold in 1986), CBS had just green-lighted my wife’s TV series, TRAPPER JOHN, M.D., for another year and we had a lovely home on the beach in Malibu. It was then I decided to write The Great American Novel, walk our Golden Retrievers on the sand and fully enjoy the good life. The euphoria only lasted for two weeks, then a pal called me to help on an apartment acquisition … and I went back to work. Sorry for that long first question answer.

On inspiration, I’ve always been a voracious reader. Five-hour plane trips across country and hours waiting in airports make reading a necessity. But my inspiration comes primarily from the great writers of suspense and thrillers I like to read. A good story, told by a great story-teller, will always been inspiring to me.

Fortunately, no one has discouraged me from writing. Friends and family, even ex-wives have all been super supportive, and I really do appreciate that.

As a writer, do you do much reading? Who were/are your favourite authors or books?

As I said earlier, I’ve always been a voracious reader. On my list of authors whose books I will stand in line to buy, the DLG’s are some of the best, the Double Letter Guys. You know them better as Michael Connelly, Nelson DeMille, Patricia Cornwell, Ken Follett, Clive Cussler, and the never to be forgotten, Dean Koontz. I’m thinking that to boost my writing career I might change the spelling of my name to Waltter Dannlley one day soon. All of my favorites were penned by the DLG’s.

Interesting idea! I am considering a pen name myself, but haven’t settled on anything yet. I already have the double n’s. Have you ever felt like giving up? When did you finally believe in yourself so you can say “I am a writer” or “I can do this”?

Several weeks ago an interviewer asked me your question with a little bit of a twist. She said, “What made you think you could write a novel?” The question was one I’ve never been asked before, so it took a few beats to sink in. What I told her, and bless her heart for publishing the answer, was, “I never considered that I couldn’t write a novel.” Enough, already. Let’s get to your next question, Lynn.

Do you have a motto or Bible verse or quote that you try to live by and that helps to keep you on track?

My grandmother, Pearl Danley, will turn over in her grave that I don’t have a favorite Bible verse, but I do try to live by a quote from Mark Twain. “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Yes, that is a good quote to remember. Have you ever written or published anything before your novel, The Tipping Point? If so, what do you remember about your very first time to be published, how did that happen?

Lynn, not in the sense of your question, but yes I did author a Continuing Education Course for the University of California. It was called, CREATIVE AND UNCONVENTIONAL FINANCE and I taught that course to real estate agents and brokers on several of the UC campuses for many years. Not the same as having your novel published, but close to that feeling to have 70 – 80 professionals in your audience for eight hours.

That’s surely a confidence builder! What inspired you to write The Tipping Point?

Annie Six, my Golden, did. In Malibu, walking the dogs on the beach I would be outlining in my head the book that twenty years later would become THE TIPPING POINT. I’d speak to myself, a line or describe a scene, and Annie would bark twice if she liked it. That was one really smart dog. Some of the characters and situations are modeled after events that actually happened over my career. What I was trying to figure out on the beach with Annie and Sun Dance was how to knit together the different stories so there would be a logical arc for the characters and the story.

Everyone’s a critic, so they say. 😉 How long did it take you to write The Tipping Point? What, if any, research did you have to do? And how did you come up with that title?

Interesting questions you have there, Lynn. How long. The process of writing took about six months, but I had to interrupt the writing for the research. The story takes place during the year 1978 and ends in January of the next year. I had to rewrite many sections because things that today we all take for granted didn’t exist. Things like cell phones, for example. Originally, I had the FBI agent using a Glock 22 pistol. That particular weapon wasn’t invented until 1979 and the FBI adopted it as an issue weapon in the early 80’s. I had a wonderful section on DNA and it worked so well in the story arc. The problem is that DNA and the tests to identify it came about years after the story time.

What I didn’t do in picking the title was to research it. It turns out that Amazon has several books with THE TIPPING POINT title or sub-title. That was a mistake. On the other hand, I heard from one reader that bought my book, thinking it was the (slightly more famous) one by Malcolm Gladwell. He said that he was going to return it, but started to read it and liked the story very much and kept my book. Now, to answer the specific questions. Garth Wainwright, speaking with Tommy Shaw about the “why” of fraud and murder, calls the introduction of mind-altering drugs into the company the tipping point. He goes on to describe the dictionary definition (which I wish I’d not included verbatim) of a tipping point. I used that as the title as it denotes the arc of the story and the changes that take place with Wainwright.

It’s good you are paying attention to details for accuracy and the timeline. Did you write a little of yourself into any of the characters? Do you have a favourite?

I’m sure that some of the real me slipped into a few of the characters. After all, I was there when some of these events took place. It is like your children, you don’t have a favorite one over the others, but in the sequel, the character of Lacey Kinkaid, now Wainwright, will be my favorite for reasons that I cannot reveal here.

Now, that peaks one’s curiosity! Since The Tipping Point is book one of The Wainright Mysteries, how may books do you plan to include in this series? Or are there going to be only this one and its sequel?

I don’t have “a number” in mind for the series. After the sequel, I am going to try a different genre. A historical western with a fantasy twist is the untitled work which I am researching. 

I understand The Tipping Point is being released in print, but can you tell us a little about your experience with releasing The Tipping Point as an E-book first?

In hindsight, I think that both editions should have been released at the same time. Just suppose you read print versions only. Maybe you don’t even have an E-Reader, but a friend tells you about THE TIPPING POINT and how much she enjoyed it. You check with your book store, and they don’t have it. They check and tell you that it is available in electronic format, but not in print. A potential reader is lost. What positive value that review may have generated is lost on all the readers who want a print book. A simultaneous release of both versions will avoid that mistake.

If you will allow me the courtesy of a small digression, Lynn, as you know, I’m about to publish the 2nd edition of THE TIPPING POINT, and the way that came about may be of interest to your readers. I was fairly deep into the sequel, INSIDE MOVES, when it dawned on me that for the sequel to work properly, a few things would need to be changed in the original story. Of course, I might have changed the direction of the sequel, but it made both books better stories to stay with the sequel storyline. My writer friends all told me not to go back and change the original story. After all, it was already published. It had already gotten some great reviews. It was already out there. What convinced me to rewrite the 1st edition was that I could use this opportunity to change something that was confusing to some readers.

In the 1st edition, when a new character appears in the story, I had them introduce themselves in the first person. When that scene concludes, the narrator takes over again in a third person point-of-view narrative. Each new character appears and speaks in first person. I stole this technique from F. Scott Fitzgerald. It worked really well for him, for me, not so much. The problem with having the POV moving back and forth is that I have many characters in the story. So now I had two reasons to ignore my friends’ advice and go ahead with the 2nd edition.

That is helpful to know. What is your writing time like? How do you find time to write?

I write best in the early morning hours. My Muse wakes me up before dawn when it’s still and quiet. On cool days (yes, we have some of those in Texas!) I take my laptop out to the deck where I can feel the breeze and smell the wild flowers. And I write. As the day gets warmer, I move back into my home office and write as long as the Muse will sit on my shoulder and the words flow. I’m trying to break a very bad habit I have during the first draft. My inclination is to correct and edit as I write. It slows the pace and interrupts the flow of the prose. My preferred method is to put the draft out as fast as I can type, don’t stop for spelling, or editing or anything, just keep pumping out the words. I’m getting better at that and I think that it helps with other aspects of the craft.

Yes, I agree. Solid editing time can follow that instead of interrupting the actual writing. What other interests do you have aside from writing?

That would be wood working as the number one interest. My brother lived in Hawaii and I in Laguna Beach, CA. We both had woodworking hobbies, although Bobby was a far better craftsman than I. We had seen each other only four times in the forty years he lived on the island. When Bobby retired, he and Mary moved to Boerne, Texas. Four years ago, so did I and we were able to reconnect in this small town in the Texas Hill Country. We combined our shops into one of the best equipped and organized woodshops anywhere.

When the Muse abandoned me, I’d go to the shop over at Bobby’s house and build something, anything. It was an enjoyable diversion and usually would focus my mind on the work left in my computer. And I’d have a new table or cabinet or box. My brother passed away last year and his daughters sold his house. I had to move all the equipment and tools into a storage unit. My woodworking days are over, but I had three great years with Bobby that would never have happened if not for a woodshop we shared.
 
Now, in order to distract the Muse, I shoot trap and skeet. Breaking clay disks with a shotgun isn’t the same kind of relaxation, but it seems to work for me.

I’m sorry, Walter, about the loss of your brother. It’s so good you had those three years to share an interest.

How do you consistently write? Do you have writing goals – daily? weekly? monthly? long-range?

I know that you are supposed to have specific writing goals and write them down, keep track of how you are doing the goals, etc. No, I don’t do that. It just isn’t the way my head works, I guess. I write as long as the words flow, sometimes without interruption. My record to date was one session of over 36 hours. Of course, the writing from the last few hours did require some very heavy editing.

Wow! That’s true binge writing. Do you have another project in the works? Any hints you can share with our readers about that?   

Now that the editors have the 2nd edition, I can go back to finish the sequel, INSIDE MOVES.  My publisher hopes to have that out for the holidays. I hope that a miracle happens and I can get the work done in time for that. I have also been working on a different kind of novel. The story intrigues me and the genre is new. It is not titled yet, and that is going to be an issue for the marketing department, but I describe it as a historical western with a fantasy twist. Most of what I have is a ton of research and file folders full of dialog and scene descriptions, but I know the story and am very excited about it. If I hadn’t promised a sequel in the WAINWRIGHT MYSTERY series to so many of my readers, I’d be writing it now. In the story, the Santa Monica (CA) Mounted Police unit agree to participate in the Bandera (TX) parade and rodeo roundup, 1,500 miles away. While in Bandera, the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World, an accident to the Capitan of SMMP puts him into post-civil war Texas. The juxtaposition of  a 2014 law man in 1873 lawless frontier town just sounds like so much fun!

Almost like time travelling, sounds interesting. I believe it will be written in its time. 🙂 Finally, is being a writer/author all you had hoped or thought it would be? Do you have any advice for hopefuls? 

Writing is a hoot! I love it and after retiring I have the time and resources to do it. From those walks with Annie Six and Sun Dance on the Malibu beach, I’ve wanted to do this, but advice, no I don’t give advice. It would be presumptuous of me to do that. But I do have a suggestion for young writers. Read as much as you can, both literary works and about what is happening to the publishing industry. Stay on top of that news because it changes almost daily. Know about the business that you want to join. It is the only way to avoid drastic mistakes.

That is a very good suggestion. Thank you, Walter, for this interview and for offering copies of The Tipping Point.

Lynn, thank you for the opportunity to chat with you. If your readers would like to contact me, here is a list of places they can easily find me.

WalterDanley.com                                    
Facebook 1 and Facebook 2                  WalterMysterious400x600           
LibraryThing                 
Twitter                           
LinkedIn                            
Google Plus               
Pinterest:                      
Amazon Author Page
Goodreads                      
Smashwords–With publication of 2nd Edition, Smashwords will distribute this title
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)  All of Amazon foreign stores

The Tipping Point. Walter DanleyNow, Readers, if you would like a chance to win a 1st edition copy of The Tipping Point (which is an adult novel) leave a question or comment here for the author. Tell your friends, too. Walter Danley has offered not one, not two, but FIVE e-copies of the 1st edition of The Tipping Point! Using the “random name picker” tool, at 6:00 PM EST on July 6, 2014, one name will be selected; July 7 one more name will be selected; July 8 the final three winners will be selected. An entrant can only win once, but one comment puts that person’s name into each draw if not selected. I will notify all winners and an e-copy will be sent to them directly from Walter after they reply to me for verification.

Please encourage a new author – LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS for him and you could win a book! And remember to check your inbox July 6, 7, and 8.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

We have a winner of Flying with a Broken Wing by Laura Best!

It’s always fun to give away a book, especially when I have had the privilege of interviewing the author. This time I am delighted to be mailing a copy of

Flying with a Broken Wing – by Laura Best

to one of the people who left a comment after the interview.

If you missed the chance to enter the draw, you can still read my review of Flying with a Broken Wing here and my interview with Laura Best here.

drum roll please ….

snare-drum-th

Using the Random Name Picker tool …

The Winner Is ….

a very fortunate person …

who will be receiving the book given by Nimbus Publishing as soon as the Post Office can deliver it … after I can get it into the mail, probably on Friday, April 25.

and that person … is ….

Barb!

Congratulations, Barb! Please send me your mailing address so I can get this copy of Flying with a Broken Wing on its way to you! 

Thank you so much to everyone who has been visiting, leaving comments, and who entered the draw. I hope you make it a habit to visit again. And thanks again, Laura Best!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Interview with Laura Best, and book giveaway!

Laura BestIt is my pleasure to welcome author Laura Best to my interview chair for a second time as she was the first author I interviewed here.  Laura, who has lived in a small Nova Scotia community all her life, is the author of the award nominated “Bitter, Sweet“, and more recently “Flying with a Broken Wing” – my review of which you can read here.  Laura has been published in literary magazines across Canada, and in 2003 her short story “Alexander the Great” was nominated for the Journey Prize. Now on with the interview!

I am very pleased you agreed to this interview, Laura, especially since it provides a great excuse to give away a copy of your new book … and to pick your brain a little … and to give someone a copy of your new book, which I already said.  🙂 
 
Near the end of our interview back in January 2011, which was after your first novel – “Bitter, Sweet” –  you said, “I’m working on another novel at the moment. I don’t often discuss my work with others. All I will say is that it is young adult and set in a fictitious community in Nova Scotia.” 

Flying with a Broken Wing Now we can discuss that project since it has come out into the spotlight as the young adult novel “Flying with a Broken Wing”

First, to address the obvious, you seem to enjoy writing fiction based in Nova Scotia. Why Nova Scotia?

Often, we tend to think that books happen in other, more exotic places, and not in our own back yard. When I was growing up, I never read a story set in Nova Scotia. I wouldn’t have even thought that was a possibility. I might even have thought it would be boring. I’m happy to know that is changing and there are many wonderful books out there that are set right here in Nova Scotia. For those of us living here, I think it gives us a sense of pride to have our home province as a setting for a book. And while Nova Scotia might not be exotic to me it might be for people living in other places. I love this province! It’s what I know best, that and rural life. Most everything I write also has a rural flavour to it. It’s a large part of my identity.

I love this province, too, Laura, and it makes me glad to find books that are set here. Your writing is doing Nova Scotia justice, for sure.

I’m always impressed and fascinated with the ideas that come together to create well-rounded characters, their life stories, communities, even worlds. Where did the idea come from for “Flying with a Broken Wing”, and how long did it take you to fit this novel together?

The book started out with the idea that I wanted to write a story with a visually impaired protagonist. My writing usually begins with the idea of a character first. While I begin with a broad idea of what will happen most times the character leads me through the story. Situations crop up as I write. In the beginning, I didn’t know for instance, that my main character’s caregiver would be a bootlegger or she’d make friends with a boy whose father was a “drunk and a bully.” These things emerged along the way as Cammie told her story.

I’d say it took about a year to write the book if I were to add it all up. A few months into the writing of this book, I stopped because I wasn’t sure that I was happy with the way it was going. After taking a break for a few months I went back to it, decided I liked what I’d written, and continued on until I finally was able to write, “the end.”

You’ve given a good example of what a little time away from a manuscript can do for an author to finish the story. I’m very glad you continued it. Did you have to do any research to make this story believable?

There was very little research required for the book, just a few small facts to check out to make the story more authentic since it’s set in 1949.When writing a story with a historic setting it’s important to know what was going on in the world at that time. In one place, Cammie makes mention of a movie star whose legs were insured for a million dollars. I love these little details and find them quite interesting. For instance, the Standard magazines, that were mentioned several times, are magazines I actually have from when the queen and king toured Canada right before the Second World War. I’ve always loved looking though those magazines and knew it would fit into a story one day.

While Tanner is a fictitious community, the story could have been set in any number of rural communities in Nova Scotia. There’s this common bond in rural communities, things that are passed down from one generation to the next. It’s a part of the fabric, an inner knowing, if you will, of the people and the lifestyle. Cammie’s whole way of speaking, the sayings she used, are all things I grew up hearing, and still hear today. No research required in that department. 🙂

You are a fine example of ‘write what you know’. 🙂 “Flying with a Broken Wing” is an intriguing title, and very suitable. How did you come up with it, and was that always the title you had in mind?

The title came from a line that appears several times in the book and also makes up the very last lines in the book. “‘They say birds can’t fly with broken wings, Evelyn Merry,’ I whisper. ‘But that doesn’t mean that we can’t. I promise you we will.’”

More importantly, the title suggests that we can fly in the face of adversity, just as the main character, Cammie, does. We all face hardships in life. We’re either born into it or we encounter it along the way. We can allow these things to define us, and accept our limitations for what they are, or we can do what some might say is the impossible regardless of our life’s circumstances. I think it’s an important message.

The title originally began as “Fly with a Broken Wing” and slowly progressed to “Flying with a Broken Wing.” 

Flying with a Broken Wing” works so much better! Who or what inspired you to make your main character visually impaired? 

Writing a visually impaired protagonist was challenging because I knew I’d be entering a world that’s totally foreign to me. Not only did I have to let the reader know what Cammie could see (or couldn’t see) her other senses had to come into play as well. I had to make sure the reader understood Cammie’s visual impairment and I had to do it in a believable way. My mother is visually impaired and has been since birth. I decided that Cammie would experience the world the same way my mother does. When Cammie takes her glasses off to read up close, or her ability to read Aunt Millie’s moods by listening to the sound in her voice and her body language, these are things I borrowed from my mother. Several times through the writing of this book I’d call and ask her to explain what her range of vision was with and without her glasses on.

You did an excellent job of portraying that; your mother must be proud of the results of your work. In this book you have several very interesting and spunky characters. Do you have a favourite, and why?

I do love Cammie, but her aunt Millie might just be my favourite. Many people have expressed their strong dislike for Millie, and she’s certainly a hard nut, there’s no denying that. She’s self-centered, tough, and a known liar. But she’s more than that. She’s a product of her environment, someone who does love but doesn’t know how to love very well. Her toughness is a matter of self-preservation. She’s a bootlegger. She has to be tough. Perhaps Millie’s my favourite because I don’t judge my characters. I simply observe their actions. I don’t become upset by what they do or don’t do. And then, of course, I know a bit more about Millie than everyone else. She comes off as cruel, not only because she’s physically abusive, but because of the lies she’s told Cammie over the years. But we can take heart in knowing that Millie didn’t simply invent these lies to be cruel. There are reasons for the things she’s told Cammie. We just don’t know what they are. I think that’s the way it is with the people in our lives. How many times do we pass judgment on others without stopping to consider what personal challenges they might have faced in the past or are facing at this very moment? Everyone has a story. We don’t always know what it is, but we’re often quick to pass judgment.

Excellent points! I’m learning we must know our characters well in order to portray them effectively to others. Which of your characters gave you the most trouble, and in what way?

That’s a tough question. I’m not sure I’d say any of the characters gave me trouble. But if I had to choose one I might say Cammie because her visual impairment was challenging to write. Still, I didn’t want this to be just a story about a visually impaired girl. More importantly, I wanted it to be about a girl with hopes and dreams, a girl who isn’t about to sit back and let life happen to her, a girl who decides to change her life, someone who isn’t defined by the things that make her different, a girl who just happens to be visually impaired. I’ve come to have such respect for the blind and visually impaired. I’ve heard so many stories from my mother about some of the people she went to school with and some of the remarkable things they went on to accomplish. If my readers gain anything from this book, I hope it’s a better understanding about people who are living with physical challenges and the things they are capable of achieving. 

I believe readers of “Flying with a Broken Wing” will hear Cammie’s heart and root for her as I did. This is a book that should be encouraging to girls in whatever their situation. Which of your characters is the most like you in attitude and/or approach to life?

I’m probably most like Evelyn Merry. I’m the person who offers support to others, who cheers for the underdog, and holds other people’s secrets close to my heart.  

There are names which can be considered unisex, my name being one of those, and you created a male character with a female name that is very unusual for a man, at least not one I had ever heard a man called. Why did you choose to do that? And why that name?

I like unusual names. They tend to be the ones we remember, and I wanted Evelyn to be a memorable character, not simply Cammie’s sidekick. I’m really bad at choosing names for my characters but, thankfully, I have a book to look through. When I came across the name Evelyn, the book said that at one time it was a popular name in England for a man. I wasn’t sure in the beginning just how I felt about the name, but as time went on it really grew on me. I can’t imagine it being anything else. I love his name. 

It was really odd to me at first, but the more I got to know Evelyn the more I liked his name. Do you have another novel in the works since this one really leaves the reader hoping for a sequel?

 I’m working on several different stories at the moment. I didn’t plan for it to happen that way but it did. And while I am planning on a sequel to “Flying with a Broken Wing” my heart is pointing me in a totally different direction these days. I’m the type of writer who is led by the characters and the story. When a story demands that I work on it, and I try to ignore those demands, I’ll encounter all sorts of problems until I give in. While my logical mind might tell me to write one thing, I need to listen to the quiet whispers inside me. If I don’t pay attention I end up losing the joy in writing because I’m looking off into the future at the end result instead of enjoying the process along the way. So, for now, I’m working on a story that makes me truly happy and the sequel, I’m in the midst of writing, has been put on the back burner for a little while longer.  

I am so glad there will be a sequel! I think because you follow your heart is why your writing is so good. Is there anything you would like to add to this interview that I may have left out? 

I can’t think of anything I’d like to add only that it’s been fun, and some of your questions were quite challenging. I think that’s a good thing. Thank you so much, Lynn, for interviewing me about my latest book.

Thank you, Laura, for agreeing to share your writing wisdom and experience with us again. I am learning from you. Now let’s give away a copy of your new book!

Readers, if you would like to have a chance to win a SIGNED copy of “Flying with a Broken Wing” by Laura Best, please leave a comment about anything you found especially interesting in the above interview. On April 22 at 6:00 PM EST one name will be selected using the “random name picker” tool. At Laura’s book launch, Nimbus Publishing gave me an extra copy just for this event! So … remember to check your inbox in case you are the winner because I will be contacting you for a mailing address. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

News about best-selling author Sue Harrison’s Alaska books! (Interview)

Today I’m doing things a little differently. For those of you who haven’t made this discovery yet on your own, I have an exciting announcement about Sue Harrison’s Alaska novels. Now you can purchase them for yourself for your electronic reader! Instead of a book review today, the rest of this post is a sort of interview and is dedicated to Sue for her relating of her e-book experience. Links are included to make it easy to find where you can purchase copies – if you are so tempted and just can’t resist. 🙂

My question to Sue was: Sue, I haven’t yet mentioned on my blog about your books becoming available as e-books. Do you have information for me regarding that? The following is her reply.

Lynn has asked me to share about the story of  the ebook release of my 6 Alaska novels, so this is a story about a little dream becoming a lot bigger than I ever thought it would.

In August 2012, my husband Neil mentioned that we really should look into my old contracts and see if we could get the ebook rights assigned to us by the publishers of my Alaska books, Doubleday, William Morrow, and HarperCollins. We weren’t all that motivated, thinking that it might take us a long time to jump through all the necessary hoops, but we dug out the contracts and were met with a very welcome surprise. We already owned the rights! The literary agent who represented my Alaska novels, Rhoda Weyr (now retired), had retained those rights – way back in the 1990s before ebooks were “invented,” and I am extraordinarily grateful for her foresight and wisdom.

My husband set to work finding a company that would scan my novel MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY in preparation for us to self-publish the novel in ebook format. We found Golden Images LLC, and Stan Drew and his people did a super job for us. However, our plans did an abrupt turn around when I received an email on November 7, 2012, from Maggie Lichota Crawford. Maggie was the Avon paperback editor for my first two Alaska books, MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY and MY SISTER THE MOON. Maggie wrote that she was now working at Open Road Integrated Media, a digital publisher based in New York City. She told us that Open Road publishes many distinguished authors digitally, including James Joyce, Pearl S. Buck, Pat Conroy, William Styron, Anne Perry…. 

And they wanted MY novels?  Wow, serious happy-dancing.

The next few months were filled with fun activities like updating and submitting my biography, reviewing cover artwork, and posing for new author photos. (Thank you, Erin Johnson!) The six novels were released in May 2013, and are available from Open Road and all ebook retailers. What a dream come true!

These are links to each novel (click link to see where to purchase book):

ebook mother-earth-father-sky 

 

Mother Earth Father Sky

 

ebook my-sister-the-moon

 

My Sister the Moon

  

ebook brother-wind

 

 

 Brother Wind

 

ebook song-of-the-river  

 

Song of the River

  

ebook cry-of-the-wind

 

Cry of the Wind

  

ebook call-down-the-stars

 

 

Call Down the Stars

 

But wait, we weren’t finished. Open Road decided to send producer Corey Maloney and cinematographer Luke Locurcio to our house to shoot a publicity video. Here’s the finished product:

Meet Sue Harrison   <– click here to watch the video

For those who are wondering, most of the video was shot here at our house and on our beach and surrounding woods. The hand hefting the axe is my husband’s. And no, we do not have that spectacular waterfall in our backyard. That is Tahquamenon Falls, located about an hour and a half drive northwest of us, and is one of the most recognized landmarks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Open Road had another big surprise for us in September 2013. It was a Tuesday, and I had begun the mundane work of washing bedding, cleaning, and generally getting back into a routine after a three-day weekend of company. I sat down at the computer and buzzed through the emails that had accumulated and just happened to notice that one of them was from my aunt, Ruth Danner. Ruth’s message said that she’d turned on her Kindle and up popped a very nice advertisement about my novel MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY.

I immediately did a little sleuthing, found an email from my publicist Laura at Open Road and discovered that MEFS had been selected as the Kindle Daily Deal. Wow! Was that a shocker.

The rest of the day, I was pretty much involved in watching the numbers. (I know that’s vain.) Wednesday was more of the same. Although my novel was back to normal price, people were still buying it. During those two days, MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY rose to #3 nationwide for Amazon ebook sales, and my author ranking rose to #4 nationwide . That author ranking lasted only a few hours, but I have to admit that it was heady to see myself ranked higher than Stephen King and Clive Cussler.

Despite all this talk about fame, please know that I know fame is a very brittle, unstable foundation for life, for self-worth, or for happiness. I’m so grateful that I don’t need accolades to tell me that I’m loved. My Bible tells me that. My family tells me that. My friends tell me that. I don’t need high author ranks to motivate me to work each day in whatever way God intends. But I did enjoy my 15 minutes of fame, and this is my opportunity to thank all of you for your support, for your help, for your kind words, and for reading my books.

Sue Harrison

Thanks, Sue, for this fabulous and thrilling story of the revival of your books! 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂