I met Kitty at an amazing critique group in a local library back in Pittsburgh, PA. I didn't realize it then, but she would become one of my great teachers at Chatham University.
Kitty is a straight-forward cat. She'll tell you like it is, and you better pay attention, because she's usually, almost always, most definitely right. Her open and honest critique helped my work to become stronger and more focused.
She enjoys helping other writers, whether seasoned or newbie. She is a force in children's literature. Her books are funny, beautifully illustrated, and interesting reads for all ages.
Below are the questions I asked her:
1. Why did THE RIDE: The Legend of Betsy Dowdy need to be told?
There are very few stories that include women when it comes to our history regarding the American Revolution. I saw this as a gateway story into that time period, one that shows girl power! As Betsy does the one thing she can for this thing called freedom. She can’t fight as a soldier. She can’t stop the King. She can ride.
2. Describe a typical writing workday in 5 words.
3. What's the funniest thing a child has ever asked you about your writing?
Why didn’t I eat my ferret. (Because I wrote that I had a chocolate ferret.)
4. How many books have you written for children and in what genres?
3 published. Dozens of others, mystery, fantasy, and humor.
The one where the character is so strong they are on my pillow when I go to bed and they are still there in the morning before they climb into my ear and bite my brain.
6. When you research for a new idea, where do you begin? The MC? The Plot? The setting? Other?
I’m constantly scouting. New Year’s Eve I heard my friend’s son say to his dad, “I’m getting your face tattooed on my butt.”
Kid: “Because you’re always on it.”
Start a story with that and no words needed to explain that dad and kid are at odds with each other.
7. Ever bitten by a dog on your mail route?
A low mail slot on a door and I had too much mail to go through, something got stuck. When I went to push it through a nasty little something with teeth bit my fingers hard enough to make them bleed. That damn dog was waiting because it knew!
I was a sub that day. Next day when the little beast was waiting I put the mail through, wagged it back and forth until the frustrated dog grabbed the mail. I could hear it being torn up as he chewed and growled and bit.
8. What one word best describes you?
9. What would you tell a newbie writer when it comes to paying for ms critique? When should they do this, if ever?
Only if they’ve heard this person speak or read their books and they feel a connection and that spending the money is an investment.
10. What authors would you recommend for your readers?
I used to have lists. But you know, the most important thing is to find books that you don’t want to put down. Find characters who stay with you after the book is read. Those are the authors you need to read.
Take the first chapter of your favorite book and type it into your computer. Get the feel of the rhythm. Check the balance. That will teach you more than any writing course. I wrote Gretel by typing in a chapter of Joan Aiken before I started my own work. Warm up exercises.
11. You're working on a YA called SHADE. Do you use an outline? Do you make up chapters first? What is your process for finishing a novel?
I have a very loose outline. I think of each novel as a play with 3 acts. Then, each chapter has its own 3 acts.
That way I can maintain the ever important tension.
12. What's it like to collaborate on a book? Do you prefer it to being the lone author?
Writing is very lonely. Collaboration is fun, as long as you trust the person you’re working with.
13. Ever wanted to give up on this career called writing? If so, what kept you going?
Churchill once said, “When you find a job you love you’ll never work again.” (might not be exact wording)
My characters keep me going. They want to be set free. The only way I can get rid of them is to write them out. Kind of like draining an abscess.
14. Who is your biggest cheerleader?
My family, my writing group, and my lovely agent Natalie.
15. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?
Buy my books…
16. What do you eat for breakfast?
French toast (gluten free) with strawberries and cream cheese in the middle. Power up the brain. I love to juice—carrots and pears, yum!
17. What do you think about writing degrees such as MFA's? Need one in today's tough market?
I needed help focusing. No, you don’t need one unless you want one.
Both Marjorie Priceman and Mike Wohnoutka were fabulous.
Just finished “The Knowland Retribution” (the series that inspired the tv show, The Finder) and have started the sequel to “Matched”, “Crossed.”
20. When you are not writing, what favorite past times do you enjoy?
Photography, gardening, working with my therapy dog (we do Tail Wagging Tutors) as she listens to kids read.