I met Dave in a SCBWI writer's critique group in Pittsburgh, PA. He impressed me right away with crisp, clean writing.
Although I've moved thousands of miles away, we have kept in touch. I read his blog posts on Route 19 Writers, and he's put me up for blog awards.
Dave is a great guy, a super dad, and all round confident, honest writer. He is one to watch.
Below are the questions I asked him:
1. Why did you apply for the SCBWI grant?
Of course, I wanted to win the grant, or at the very least receive an honorable mention, but win or lose I believed the results would provide me the opportunity to see where I stacked among my peers.
(Lose; back to the drawing board. Win; bask in a bit of glory.)
On top of that, and perhaps most importantly, the process of filling out the grant let me focus on my writing by putting together what I hoped was a professional package worthy of catching an editor or agent's attention.
2. What advice would you give a writer trying to win a grant?
Then, review carefully each question and answer to make sure you have not omitted any, or provided unnecessary information. It's amazing how many words can be cut from a particular piece. Submit your package and hope for the best, but don't dwell on what you did or didn't do, or should or shouldn't have done, while you are waiting to hear the results.
3. Describe your writing in 5 words:
Fast-paced. Energetic. Thoughtful. Entertaining. Insightful.
4. Why write?
Where else are the stories and ideas floating inside my head going to go?
5. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
I always wake early, or at least have waking early as my goal. My breakfast usually consists of fresh fruit, cereal and a piece of whole wheat toast.
6. You speak about your disability, and are currently working hard on trying to walk again. Do your characters reflect this struggle in your life?
I believe all of my life experiences have effected my writing and therefore my characters. I would have to say though that my disability and the extensive therapy I have undertaken since being injured probably play a more critical role in character development than anything else I have done, if only a subconscious level.
Daily physical therapy is so much a part of me that I sometimes find it hard to separate the two. In fact, I have trouble making it through a day without doing some type of therapy to help improve, or maintain what I've worked so hard to achieve.
7. What are your writing goals for the next 5 years?
My immediate goals are to polish my manuscript to the point where I feel it is ready to be sent to various agents, to find an agent who is willing to represent and work together with me, and of course, to sign my first contract.
If that happens in the short-term, I would love to see another of my novels picked up for publication. (I know that would take quite a bit of hard work, which I am willing to do, and perhaps a bit of luck as well, but it doesn't hurt to dream, does it?)
8. Who are you reading right now?
Kevin Brooks and David almond. They're fantastic... can't put the book down fantastic. They are so unbelievably talented. I can't get enough of their stories and I can't wait for them to write something new so I have fresh reading material. I've put another link for a post I wrote some time ago about Kevin Brooks, David almond and other favorite writers.
9. Any words of advice for newbie writers?
Read. Read. Read. Write. Write. Write. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. Grow some thick skin so you handle the criticism and rejections that will ultimately come your way. Always maintain a positive attitude.
10. You belong to SCBWI. How has this organization helped you in writing?
It is through SCBWI that I found my first writer's critique group and discovered the multitude of writer's conferences available to me. I took advantage of the resource library they compiled, now in PDF format, before I submitted my material. And of course, without SCBWI there would not have been a grant for me to apply... Or to win.
11. Do you still belong to a critique group? If so, why?
Absolutely. They are a crucial part of my support structure. They are my ears and eyes and my sounding board for everything writing.
12. Who is your biggest cheerleader?
My wife is my biggest cheerleader in everything and anything I do. My children are close behind, as is my father and my extended family, which includes all my writer friends.
13. Is there anything that is a MUST have on your writing desk?
There is nothing that is a must have on my writing desk, however, I would find it very difficult to write without the software program installed on my computer called Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It's a voice activation software which allows me to write without actually touching the keys. You can check out a blog I wrote on this subject at the following link.
14. Will you be seeking an agent or will you go directly to publishing houses?
As I've mentioned before, I will be seeking representation. It is so difficult to garner access to publishing houses without representation. Plus, if I am fortunate enough to land an agent I believe I will be more able to focus on writing. I believe an agent will know the market and know exactly which houses to send my manuscript.
15. The query letter: Love it? Hate it? What’s your take on it?
The query letter is definitely not my favorite to write, but I've come to believe it is as equally important as my manuscript. When we submit our work, we have such a small window of opportunity to catch someones attention that it has to be perfect, polished, concise. With that said, I've been working on mine to try to make it as perfect as possible. I hope that once I send out my material I will quickly get responses... Positive responses.
16. What one word best describes you?