Tag Archives: win a book

Books reviews and a giveaway soon to end

Soon your chance to win a suspense novel by Janet Sketchley will pass. Did you put your name into the draw?

These are the books you have the chance to win, well … one of them, anyway. Your choice if your name is drawn.

You can read my review HERE.

 

 

You can read my review HERE.

 

 

You can read my review HERE.

 

 

 

Then you can enter the draw HERE.  Remember to tell us which of her books you would like to receive.

The draw will be on Thursday, November 30 at 9 PM EST when I will choose one name from among the comments. Each person gets one chance. That’s just two days away!  

Janet has the ability, it seems, to pull you right into the story and you want to know what’s going to happen next. Even if you think this is not the genre you would enjoy you might be surprised, or if you are sure it’s not for you I bet you know someone who would love it. Soooo … you can send them over so they can enter the draw.   🙂    Okay, enough persuasion.

On another topic, it snowed this morning. This isn’t the first snow this season but a lot of it stayed on the ground this time. Roads were very slippery this morning, as they always are with the first snows. I can’t deny it any longer. Winter is extending her long cold fingers to make me shiver, just a reminder that winter is coming and in a month it’s officially that season.  Well, on the cheery side of things … spring is only four months away! 

 

 

Are you ready for winter?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Advertisements

Oliver Wendell Holmes quote

Today I have a quote for you to ponder. And please remember to enter your name for Thursday’s draw … HERE.

 

A mind stretched by a new idea never returns to its original shape. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

Any thoughts on that?  Have you had any ideas that stretched your mind and affected you in a huge and wondrous way, maybe changed your life or how you see things?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

Interview with Janet Sketchley & a book giveaway!

Today I’m delighted to introduce to you Janet Sketchley, author of the Redemption’s Edge Christian suspense series and the devotional collection, A Year of Tenacity. She’s an Atlantic Canadian writer who loves Jesus and her family, and enjoys reading, worship music, and tea. You can find Janet online at janetsketchley.ca.

Welcome to my interview corner, Janet. Thank you for taking the time to do this. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I don’t think I’m very interesting… that’s why I write about my imaginary friends. I like my life, though, and wouldn’t trade it: I’m blessed with a wonderful husband and three adult sons, I get to live in Nova Scotia, and I love the beauty of nature, especially rivers and the ocean.

I fully understand your love of Nova Scotia’s beauty and the ocean never far from us here.  🙂 When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you?

I have memories from childhood of writing some spectacularly bad stories, or at least the openings of stories. My earliest inspiration probably came from the Anne of Green Gables and Black Stallion books.

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

I read way too much! I’ve gone through phases of different genres, and now I read fairly widely but most enjoy clean or Christian mysteries, science fiction, and fantasy.

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

I’ve quit a few times ** God always nudges me back to it, and when I’m not writing, there’s a part of me that’s miserable. I think the turning point for me was realizing that I need to write, whether I’m published or not. The freedom to embrace the gift and do what makes me feel alive without needing to show proof of “success” was crucial.

I appreciate what you said as I’m still sorting out how it all fits together for me. Do you have a favourite motto or quote or Bible verse that you try to live by and that helps to keep you going?

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” That’s my life verse (and it’ll take a lifetime to fully apply it!).

Agreed! What support groups do you have in place that help keep you inspired?

I’m part of a local writers’ group who meet face to face for encouragement and critiquing, plus I’m connected to writers across Canada through The Word Guild and InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. I’m also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, despite being Canadian. Interacting with other writers encourages me, and I learn from those with more experience.

Great reminder. What do you remember about the very first time you were published? How did that come about?

I don’t remember much about my very first time in print, with a short article, but I was always excited to receive a printed copy of my submission. Publication of my first novel was a very surreal feeling. After so many rejections, I didn’t know what to do with a “yes.” It was a thrill to receive a box of my books and to actually be able to hold a copy of what had been a dream for so long.

How exciting! What have you had published thus far, and of those what have you most enjoyed writing?

My Redemption’s Edge series is three novels plus a bonus feature book. Each of the novels had parts I enjoyed – those moments when inspiration flows and I type as fast as I can to keep up. Also, this year I released a non-fiction book, A Year of Tenacity: 365 Daily Devotions

Bravo! I like having a daily inspirational reading, so my copy of Tenacity will be arriving soon from Amazon. What process do you go through when writing and perfecting your work?

This is still evolving. I’m becoming more of a plotter, more aware of the underlying structure of fiction and how best to build on it. Not that writing should ever be mechanical, but the better foundation I can lay in the planning and early draft, the stronger the final work will be, and the simpler the rewrites. For me, there will always be rewrites…

What method do you use to keep track of your writing ideas?

I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s OneNote software. It’s like a virtual binder, and it lets me keep track of ideas, links, images… everything that inspires me.

Sounds very convenient. What inspired you to write the Redemption’s Edge novels?

Essentially, I started writing book one, Heaven’s Prey, because it wouldn’t leave me alone and I wanted to get it out of my head. The following books in the series grew from seeds of ideas that stuck with me over the years.

How long did it take you to write each of the three books, approximately? Did you have to do much research for any of them?

From my earliest notes to the actual publication of Heaven’s Prey was almost 20 years. A lot of that was rewriting again and again, plus writing a few drafts of book two, Secrets and Lies. Book three, Without Proof, took about a year, and I would like to have had longer with it. I’m not fast at this. Each one took some research, most of which I was able to do online. Sometimes that had me wondering if I’d trigger some government agency to come check on me! I’d been a Formula One racing fan for years, so I’d already absorbed most of the racing information I needed for Heaven’s Prey.

Wow! Twenty years! It certainly paid off as Heaven’s Prey is a gripping story. I’m glad you still have your freedom after Without Proof. 😉 Did you find any of the stories difficult to write, or more so than the others? If so, how did you stick with it and why?

Heaven’s Prey was definitely the hardest. As I said, this one came to me, I didn’t go looking for it. One of the challenges in each rewrite was to deepen the hard places where I wanted to stay on the surface. I had to be true to the characters and their story without traumatizing the reader. It’s still too much for the most sensitive, although other readers tell me it’s not as dark as I say it is. This sounds crazy, but I stuck with it for the characters. I said as long as I could learn how to make their story better, I’d do it for them. That’s why I kept going back to the story even after taking a break to write the next one. If writing a novel is a form of birth, this one definitely had the longest gestation.

I find it amazing how characters we write seem to take on a life of their own and have to be heard. Heaven’s Prey is the hardest one of the three to read, but it’s worth staying with until the end. How did you go about finding a publisher? an editor? and do you have an agent?

I’ve attended the Write Canada conference for many years, and connected with my agent there. I received a couple of invitations to submit my manuscripts that way, too, although the timing (and quality!) wasn’t right. My agent and I had pretty much lost hope when I heard about a new start-up publisher in the US. I submitted my proposal with my agent’s approval, and was shocked to be accepted. The second shock was working through the editorial process and discovering how much work still needed to be done. The third was my publisher closing its fiction line, and my taking the plunge into indie publishing.

Good for you for your determination and passion! Please tell us, what honours your books have received thus far.

I’m pleased that each of the novels has been short-listed for The Word Awards in the suspense category. They didn’t win, but being a finalist is an affirmation in its own right.

Congratulations for the recognition. How do you consistently write? Do you have writing goals .. daily? weekly? monthly? long-range?

This past year, I’ve been terrible at this. I do have writing goals, but have not been meeting them. Consistent, daily writing time with a solid, three-hour chunk of focus is what I need to regain.

What other interests do you have for a change from writing?

I’ve already confessed that I read too much. A special, relaxing treat is to spend time cross-stitching or knitting, often with my favourite music playing. Less relaxing but important to my health is exercise. I run twice a week, and join my husband for a couple of gym classes as well. This is not my idea of fun, but writing is sedentary and I was developing some aches and creaks.

Oh, do I hear ya regarding those aches and creaks! I get so involved in what I’m doing I forget to get up and walk around, and then I pay for it. Do you have other projects in the works? If so, can you give our readers any hints?

Fiction-wise, I’m working on a new series, the Green Dory Inn Mysteries set just outside of Lunenburg, NS. It starts with a novella that will release in the new year, followed by a full-length novel I’m writing now.

Sounds interesting! Is being a writer/author all you had hoped or thought it would be?

It’s different than I imagined when I started writing seriously as an adult, but by the time my novels were published, I’d spent enough time around more advanced writers to know they’re still human like the rest of us. It’s not glamorous or exciting, it’s long hours slogging to craft the best story we can, while balancing life’s regular responsibilities. It’s definitely not making me rich. But those moments when I hear from a reader that something has made a difference in her life? Those are priceless.

The balancing act is its own challenge, I think. Do you have any advice for hopefuls?

Involve yourself in a writers’ group with people farther ahead of you on the journey. That can be in person, but it can also be online. Listen to them and learn what to expect. Keep writing, every day if possible. Little bits add up. Give yourself permission to enjoy the process, because it’s a long one. Strive for excellence, but don’t let that paralyze you. If you can, attend a conference. It’s amazing the difference to your mindset, just being around other writers and learning with them. And like any other dream, don’t let it own you. You are more than this one aspect of who you want to be. Don’t miss the rest of life while working toward the dream.

What excellent advice, Janet, and helpful to me. Thank you! This has been a wonderful interview; I’m impressed with your … tenacity.

I’ve enjoyed all the books in your Redemption’s Edge series, and now we get to the fun stuff … the offer of one of your books to one of our readers! 

 

 

 

Readers, and writers who read 🙂 – check out my reviews of the above three books by Janet:  Heaven’s Prey   Secrets & Lies    Without Proof

Janet is giving you the chance to win one of her novels depicted above — winner’s choice. One person will win a print copy if you are within Canada or continental US, or an ebook if you are elsewhere in the world. How cool is that!

If you’d like a chance to win one of the three suspense novels shown above, simply leave a comment about anything that stood out to you in the interview, and also say which book would be your choice should you be the fortunate winner. Using random name picker I’ll be selecting one name at 9:00 PM EST on November 30, so you have a little over a week as of this posting. If your name is chosen you’ll receive an email in which I’ll ask for your information so a book can be sent to you.

And PLEASE … PASS THE WORD ALONG!

Janet’s writing is professional and enjoyable to read. You can go to Amazon (.com or .ca) to find all her books mentioned in this interview. Just type “Janet Sketchley” into their search bar to see them all.

Remember, you only have until November 30 to enter the draw, and please send your friends this way.  🙂 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

Last chance to win The Road That Trucks Built – by Susanna Leonard Hill

Hi, Picture Book Lovers!

I am adding my last extra blog post into my busy all-about-Susanna-Leonard-Hill-&-her-books-and-illustrators-in-July schedule. This is to remind you that today – at 9 PM EST – your chance to win, here on my blog, a copy of The Road That Trucks Built .. brakes to a halt … red light, over.

You can go HERE to read my interview with illustrator Erica Sirotich and leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Susanna Leonard Hill‘s children’s book The Road That Trucks Built.

Take a look at this fun illustration created by Erica:

 

 

 

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon

If you want to enter the draw, just leave a comment on the July 20 interview post telling us which truck you would want to be or drive – the bulldozer, the scraper, the grader, the paver, the roller, or the paint marker – and your name will go into the random name picker tool I use to determine who is the winner … of a book, not of permission to drive the truck.  🙂  It’s fair and easy!

The month is coming to a close – can you believe it! – ending my part in Susanna’s blog tour for Trucks.  Thanks to Susanna (author), Little Simon (publisher), and Erica Sirotich (illustrator), and – of course – to everyone who enjoyed this with us. We greatly value your interest and comments. 🙂

Be sure to check your email tonight if you entered the draw. In the next post (on July 30) I will announce the winner of The Road That Trucks Built.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂  

Last chance to win When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles by Susanna Leonard Hill

Hi, Everyone!

I am again sneaking an extra blog post into my busy all-about-Susanna-Leonard-Hill-&-her-books-and-illustrators-in-July schedule. This is to remind you that today – at 9 PM EST – your chance to win on my blog a copy of When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles comes to a close. Don’t blow it!  (See what I did there? 😉 )

Anyhoot … Check out all my July posts if you want to learn more about 1 author: Susanna, 2 illustrators: Daniel and Erica, 3 new books: Lion, Elephant, Trucks. You can count on Susanna to bring you fun things to do, too, such as crafts and recipes.

As extra incentive, in case you haven’t yet entered the draw to win a copy of When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles – that you can donate to a school or library if you prefer – look at this wonderful illustration created by Daniel Wiseman.

 

 

 

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Daniel Wiseman
Used by permission of Little Simon

All you have to do is leave a comment on the July 11 interview post telling us how you would take care of your elephant when it has the sniffles and gets bored – and your name will go into the random name picker thingie I use to determine who is the winner. 🙂 Can’t be any easier than that!

And this is the end of my part in the promotional blog tour for Elephant. Thanks to Susanna (author), Little Simon (publisher), and Daniel Wiseman (illustrator), and – of course – to everyone who came to visit and participate. We sincerely appreciate your interest and comments. 🙂

Next post is July 23 to announce the winner of When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

Interview with illustrator Erica Sirotich; & a book giveaway!

I’m delighted today to welcome you to my second illustrator interview! Erica Sirotich, illustrator of The Road That Trucks Built – written by Susanna Leonard Hill – accepted my invitation to answer some questions here for us.

Welcome to my interview corner, Erica! I’m happy to invite you as only the second illustrator I’ve ever interviewed. I’m learning wonderful things about creating. 🙂 By way of introduction, could you tell us a little about yourself?

 

Hi there! I am a freelance and children’s book illustrator living in St Pete, Florida. I’ve been working on picture books for about four years, and illustrating professionally for eight. I am the illustrator of Susanna Hill’s adorable The Road That Trucks Built, but I must mention that my author-illustrator debut, Found Dogs, just came out too (July 18)! It’s a picture book for young children about adopting dogs from the local shelter; it’s published by Dial (Penguin) and can be found wherever books are sold!
Other than drawing, I love my dog Russell Redfur (all dogs really); I enjoy lots of coffee and talk radio and podcasts while I work; and I’m a big collector. I collect picture books and art books, stamps, rocks from my travels, Japanese wooden kokeshi dolls, and most recently, plants.

Congratulations on your author-illustrator debut! That’s exciting! When did you first know you wanted to be an illustrator? Who or what inspired you, and what keeps you motivated?
Well, I’ve been drawing my entire life. My little brother and I grew up drawing together, and we’re both working illustrators now. As kids, we inspired and challenged each other all the time, and taught each other drawing techniques and tricks. He still inspires me (www.nicksirotich.com), and so do hundreds of other illustrators, whose work I follow online, on Instagram, and whose books I obsessively collect.

It’s wonderful you have someone close to you with that same interest. Can you tell us a little about your technique and choice of medium?
I sketch everything first in pencil, of course, and when sketches are approved by my art director, I refine them and move on to ink. Depending on the project, I either use brush pens and fine tip pens to create crisp line art (as in Trucks), or brushes and ink to create a slightly looser, softer look (as in Found Dogs). When the ink drawings are complete, I scan those in and collage the pieces together in Photoshop, and color the images digitally. My finished pieces are hybrids of traditional and digital illustration processes.

It all sounds very interesting. How do you decide on how the characters will look?
I just sketch and sketch and sketch and the characters’ personalities emerge gradually and organically from this process. For Trucks, I first had to study all of the vehicles that appear in the book to try to understand how they move and work. (I had never even heard of a scraper before!) So I gathered dozens of reference photos of the trucks and tacked them on my cork wall in front of my desk. Some of them reminded me of certain animals; for instance, the bulldozer reminded me of a little crab, and since we wanted the trucks to be characters in their own right, I embraced that comparison and drew her that way—as a crabby dozer. (She’s not crabby, actually; she’s cheery, and carries a purple flower in her exhaust pipe.)

Yes, she looks quite happy doing her work. 🙂 How much is your own idea when illustrating a book, and how much direction is decided for you? In other words, how much freedom are you given? Do you do any brainstorming with the author?
Usually when I’m working on initial sketches for a book the art director has provided a couple sentences describing what should appear on each page or spread. I’m given a lot of freedom to determine how to execute that, but once the entire book is sketched out, the art director often makes more recommendations to improve consistency across spreads, to fix tricky areas, to remove unnecessary elements or add necessary ones, and so on.
Recommendations in the Trucks illustration process included things like: let’s change the perspective on this page, or zoom out to see a wider view; let’s show each truck from the previous spread in the current spread; let’s show more rocks and sticks in the dirt; let’s add more confetti to the road opening celebration; things like that.
When illustrating a book, I work exclusively with the art director, not the author. That’s just the standard process in publishing. I do believe the art director/editor shows the author the sketches once they’re complete, and then the finished pieces at the end.
The author is consulted in part to make sure nothing has been misinterpreted or
misunderstood, and to make sure she likes how it’s materializing. But I don’t
communicate with the author directly; the art director calls most of the shots.

Your illustrations for Susanna’s book, The Road That Trucks Built, are very well-suited to children. How did you land this assignment? Approximately how long did it take you to complete this book?

Thank you! Well, I have an agent, Jenn Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary, so my projects mostly come straight through her. For Trucks, the art director saw my work and contacted Jenn to see if I’d be interested in illustrating it. I thought the manuscript was so cute and clever, and though animals are my favorite things to illustrate, I loved that in Trucks the vehicles had to be depicted as characters in their own right. So, of course, I jumped at the opportunity.
I believe the process for illustrating Trucks spanned about six months, but I was actively illustrating for about four. For a short period of time, I was hopping between illustrations for Trucks and Found Dogs.

What is it about illustrating children’s books that appeals to you?
I just love children’s books and I’m over the moon that I have had the opportunity to work on several thus far. I think some of the most compelling and innovative work in illustration these days is being done in picture books. There’s so many incredibly talented people out there making them, I’m just humbled and honored to play a tiny part in that world.
Also, I love that working on books is kind of a hybrid between being a freelancer and having a “real job.” When illustrating a book, you know you’ll be busy for several months at a time and can budget your time (and expenses) accordingly. Being self-employed can be a roller coaster of busy—not busy—busy and also making money—not making money—making money. Longer projects help build some stability in an otherwise unpredictable career.

I understand about your love for picture books, and when you help create them it must be thrilling! Writers have critique groups, editors, agents, how does that work for you as an illustrator?
I have a wonderful agent. It’s been her connections and enthusiasm for my work that’s led to all of my major projects over the last four years. For illustration-only projects, like Trucks, I work with art directors rather than editors. I don’t know of anything along the lines of an illustration critique group, but I have a lot of illustrator friends, as well as my brother, who weigh in if I get stuck or need advice. And I post a lot of work and process shots on Instagram, which has a very large illustration and picture book community. It’s nice to get feedback from folks there, and feel connected to a creative community that’s dispersed across the globe.

Obviously, it’s important to have those connections. Is being an illustrator all you had hoped or thought it would be?
Haha! Well, in some ways, yes. First and foremost, I get to draw (almost) every day, so in that way, I’m living the dream. Being self-employed can be difficult, though. I’m lucky to have some regular clients in addition to my book illustration projects, including Highlights Magazine, and that helps me fill in the gaps.
There’s that saying out there: If you do what you love, you won’t work a day in your life. That’s not true, ha! I usually work 6-7 days a week, nights included, and I work very hard. (Yes, sometimes I’m sitting on my couch in the living room while I work, but there’s always more to do and I don’t like to procrastinate.)
All that said, the work is a privilege and joy. The fact that, in the end, it lands in the hands of children makes it even more special and even kind of surreal. I just love it.

How wonderful that you have been able to turn what you love to do into something you … love to do for a  job! Do you have any advice for hopefuls?
There’s no substitute for dedication, persistence, work, and study. If you want to work on picture books (or on any particular book genre), read and study as many recently published picture books as you can (last five years, preferably). Use your favorites as mentor texts and try to really understand how those works are put together and why they are successful. Join SCBWI, study their website and resources, and do your best to attend at least one regional or international conference. Soak up the collective wisdom of that group. Hone your style and present your work professionally online, in a clean, standalone website. In your portfolio, show fewer strong pieces, rather than more mediocre ones. Follow agents on social media and, when you’re ready to submit your work to them, follow their guidelines and only submit your best. Maintain a professional persona online; don’t post things that you wouldn’t want a potential client
to see. And don’t quit your day job too soon. Getting consistent work in illustration and publishing can take years and years. Try not to be discouraged. The process is slow but the rewards are worth it. Good luck!

Thanks, Erica, for a very interesting interview and for giving us a glimpse into your world. 🙂 Congratulations, again, on your own book debut this week! I wish you continued success.

WHERE YOU CAN FIND ERICA:

Website
Twitter: @cuddlefishpress 
Instagram: @ericasirotichon 
FaceBook 

And now …

Susanna Leonard Hill, and her publisher, Little Simon, are offering to one of you a copy of The Road That Trucks Built

 

 

 

The rules are simple. Leave a comment on this post telling us which type of ‘truck’ in the road crew you would like to drive, and your name will be entered into the draw – not to actually drive one of them, though. (Sorry)  🙂  You have the ones in the story from which to choose: the bulldozer, the scraper, the grader, the paver, the roller, the paint marker. (If you read my interview with Susanna you know which one she is likely to choose. 🙂 )You have until Saturday, July 29, at 9:00 PM EST to enter. Using the “random name picker” I will select one name, and the next morning – Sunday, July 30 – I will announce the winner of a copy of The Road That Trucks Built. Be sure to 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, FaceBook, or what ever way you communicate with the world. We thank you.

To catch up on the exciting things that have been happening here all month read about it. (You have until July 22 to enter the previous draw, too.)

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!  🙂