Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Interview with Eric Elfman: Author & Writing Coach

Eric Elfman: Author & Writing Coach

I met Eric at an Andrea Brown Literary Agency writer's workshop a few years ago. We struck up a conversation at the bar, over a glass of red wine. I knew this relationship was going somewhere good.

Eric is a warm, funny guy -- even when he loses his voice -- and a great writer and coach. We've worked on the first four chapters of my first MG project, REDWOOD BLOOD, and now that it's ready for a full editorial make-over he's the guy for the job.

Below are the questions I asked him:

  1.     Describe your writing style in 5 words:

Direct, visceral, funny, immediate, clear

2.     When an idea starts to form in your head, how do you capture it initially?

I usually start by jotting down notes, ideas, outlines, beats, characters, potential conflicts, scenes, rough outlines, lines of dialogue, gags, anything that will flesh out the concept and begin the process of bringing it to life. 

I've started using DAY ONE on my Mac, a nifty little MenuBar app that I can invoke with a click to jot down random notes, general thoughts, observations, journal entries, tentative tweets, whatever springs to mind really, with zero delay. It's much more convenient than scraps of paper and far quicker for jotting down those effervescent thoughts than trying to find and open a Word document!

3.     Why write?

For the easy money. (And because I know humor doesn't always come across on the internet, I state the obvious: I'm joking!) There's only one reason to write, and it's been said before: because you have to. Because you can't not write. 

4.     What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?

I tend to go to bed late -- late-night/early-morning, while the world sleeps, is my favorite time to write. Consequently, I get up late, too (that is, if I don't have a meeting or another reason to get up early). 

For breakfast, I've recently learned how to make poached eggs, they're as simple as can be (I usually make three, one for my wife, two for me):

boil water in a pan, reduce it to a simmer; put a tablespoon of white vinegar in the water (to help the eggs whites hold together); then crack the eggs into the simmering, nearly still, water. That's it! 

Let them sit there for about four minutes, lift out with a slotted spoon, and set them on a plate next to some toast. Yu-um! (And much easier clean-up than scrambled eggs or over easy!)

5.     How did you meet your writing partner for Tesla's Attic?
Long story short, Neal and I have known each other as friends for years. We were both writers when we met, with similar sensibilities and senses of humor, and over the years we kept saying, "We should write something together!" 

But we were both so busy with our own projects, we kept saying it, until we both finally said, "It's time!" 

We put everything else aside and wrote a screenplay together, a fantasy spoof called UNDERWHERE. While it hasn't sold (yet!), that script got us many, many meetings in Hollywood, and we ended up selling three other screenplays together, including CLASS ACT, an original pitch that was set up at Dreamworks with Halle Berry attached to star. 

TESLA'S ATTIC was an idea we came up with in a pitch meeting on an unrelated project, and Neal and I quickly saw it as a series of MG novels.

   6.     Describe the co-writing relationship:

Neal and I are on the same wavelength in so many areas -- story structure, character, sense of humor, tone.  I think the chemistry is the most important thing, because we're speaking the same language. 

While we occasionally write chapters on our own and then exchange them (or scenes, in the case of screenplays), most often we sit in the same room with each other, with one of of us typing while the other one talks. 

On TESLA, we also started collaborating via GoogleDocs, which is an amazing technology that allows two or more writers to work in the same document simultaneously. Sometimes we'd be sitting across the table from each other in a Starbucks, talking to each other and both in the same GoogleDoc; at other times we'd be in different places, Neal might be in a hotel for a school visit, I'd be at home, and we'd be on the phone together and working in the same GoogleDoc. It's unbelievably useful -- I'd urge any collaborators to try it out.

Our bottom line rule: if anything one of us says makes the other one laugh, it goes in the script or the book. (Luckily, we usually write comedies.) 

Writing alone is such a, well, solitary process -- and humor is so subjective, it's hard to be sure when you're working on your own. Just knowing that one other person thought something you said is funny means that the whole world might! 

7.     Who is your biggest cheerleader and why?

That would be my wife, Jan! Even in the early days, she believed in what I was doing, and she sings my praises both as a writer and a writing coach. She's not only my cheerleader, she's my press agent! And number two on my list would have to be my son, Robby.. 

8.     You launched your website six years ago. Any success stories?

Yes! I'm thrilled to report that four of my clients had their books published by major publishers last year, including HarperCollins, Walden Pond, and Viking. 

And so far this year, three more writers I've worked with are set to have their books published. 

Several more clients have acquired agents after I coached with them through their books and I hope <crosses fingers> they'll be published soon. 

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing writers I've worked with get publishing deals!

9.     What do you look for in a writer before you accept them into your coaching program?

My clients are all self-selecting, so I assume if they're coming to me, they're serious about writing. 

I'm hoping they already know that writing is hard work. It takes a commitment of time and a lot of patience. I'm also hoping that they'll be able to take constructive feedback. Sometimes the story's structure isn't working; or the narrative voice is weak -- will they be able to handle it? 

Again, if  writer is coming to me, that's usually a sign that they want honest, constructive feedback. (Right, Angie?!) ~ (Absolutely Coach!!)

Often I've already met the writer at a writing conference, such as Big Sur, or they were referred by an agent or by another writer I've worked with, and I know they can write well. 

If I don't know the writer, if they found me via my website, say,  I usually start them with a thirty-page overview critique. This lets me see how well they write, and gives me a clear look at the issues they may have with character development, story structure, conflict, pacing, narrative voice, dialogue, etc.  

  10. Do you have readers helping you, or do you personally read the manuscripts and give notes?

Oh, I've longed to have readers, but I can't teach what I do, so I personally read all manuscripts that writers send me, and give my comments about what the story needs, what the  characters lack, where there should be set-ups and pay-offs and rising tension, etc. 

And voice, always voice. I also run telecritique groups over the phone, which are great fun for all the writers in those programs. In those sessions, all the writers give their feedback, too, of course -- but because I know everyone's time is precious, we only discuss the pages that each writer reads during his time on the call.

11. Why do you want to coach writers?

I really enjoy it. I like seeing other writers improve and succeed. Nothing pleases me more than to see a writer find their voice, and tell their story in way that reaches others. If they can attract an agent, find a publisher, and get their work read by thousands of readers, my work is done. 

 12. What one word best describes you?

13. What do you think about the publishing world today?

It's definitely changing. Every year ePublishing constitutes a larger and larger share. The traditional publishers are still phenomenally important as a sign of quality, and for distribution and marketing, and there are so many small presses that I still encourage writers to go that route first, to try every possible agent and publisher, before striking out on their own. 

But if that doesn't work, and a writer is confident they know something about marketing, between Amazon and POD and ePubs, there has never been a better time for self-publishing.

14. Is it easier or more difficult for a new writer to break in? Why or why not?

I think in some ways it is harder for a new writer to get a deal with one of the big publishers -- many of them no longer take unagented submissions, for one thing. But there are so many smaller publishers today who will still accept unsolicited queries and manuscripts. 

But as I said above, the self-pub / digital world is making it much easier for anyone with a book to reach an audience. A writer can go directly to the public in a way that has never been possible before.

15. What 3 words of advice do you have for newbie writers?

Write, write, write.

16. Do you belong to any writer's associations? If so, which ones and why?

I'm a member of the WGA, the screenwriter's union (the Writers Guild of America). I'm also a proud member of the SCBWI, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (although yikes! now that I think of it, it might be time to renew my membership!)

17. You have an agent. How has this helped your writing success?

Having an agent is pretty mandatory. Your agent opens door that wouldn't have been open otherwise. For instance, many larger publishers will no longer read unagented material. 

And just as importantly, an agent knows what to ask for in a contract, and how to get you the best deal. They also know how, and when, to orchestrate a book auction. And they are often the one to tell you a manuscript needs a bit more work before they take it out to publishers.

18. What do you think about the Big Sur writing workshop put on by the Andrea Brown Agency? Why do you attend as faculty?

I can't say enough good things about the Big Sur workshop which is, in my humble opinion, the best writing conference out there. 

Three days of working in small critique groups with agents and publishers and published writers, getting personal feedback, all while nestled in the redwoods? Come on! Nothing beats it. And I go because I love it. 

I enjoy working with writers, individually and in groups, and giving them feedback about how they can improve their work. It's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun!

19. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

If your readers are working on a novel and they're stuck, or they've finished one and would like some feedback before they submit it to an agent or publisher, they can visit my website, and see if my coaching services are a good fit for them. 

(And when TESLA'S ATTIC is released, I'd appreciate it if each of them would buy 10 copies of the book.)

20. Where do you go to get the best cup of Joe in your town?

I make a pretty mean cup of coffee myself! (To go with my poached eggs!) And even though I usually hang out at the local Starbucks to write, there are a couple of awesome local cups of coffee: one is a coffee house across the street from Sony Studios in Culver City, the Conservatory for Coffee. They roast the beans there themselves. 

And in Topanga Canyon, where I sometimes reside, there's a breakfast and lunch place called Pat's Topanga Grill. I don't know which brand they use, but it's one of the best cups of coffee in L.A. 

   21. What is your writing process? Do you sit for 5 – 8 hours at a stretch?  Do you outline?

I wish I could write for 5 hours at a stretch! I'd get so much more done! Although, truth be told, I can do it when I'm on deadline! And when I'm writing with Neal, we can easily go four or five hours, laugh and feel like we're goofing off the entire time, then look down and realize we have 12 solid pages written! 

And yes, I'm an outliner. That may be my screenwriter training, where outlining is fairly mandatory -- usually with an index card for each story or character beat. 

However, I have worked with several authors who don't outline, they start with character, or an idea, and just see where that takes them, moving instinctively, organically. 

I think that's a fantastic way to work, if it works for you, but personally, I like to know exactly where my story is going. (The trick, of course, is to make sure the characters don't!)

22. What is the one thing that you learned, during your career as a writer, that has helped you to become successful?

Never give up! Many years ago, when I was still in my teens and knew I wanted to be a writer, I heard a writer interviewed on the radio (and I wish I could remember who he was, so I could give credit!) But he said something that inspired me, a very simple statement of fact: if you keep writing, eventually you will get published. 

Over the years, I had several friends who were writers, but many of them put it aside to get "real" jobs. And a lot of them had real talent! The one thing that separated me from them is that I kept at it. And, like so many things, the more you write, the better you get at it.

23. Any big news?
Okay, Angie, here's some news for you. I've mentioned this to a few friends, but I'm giving you a web exclusive here: Owen Richardson, who did the cover illustration for "Artemis Fowl" is doing the cover of TESLA'S ATTIC. 

(That rocks, Eric!!~A)

When Stephanie Lurie, our editor at Hyperion-Disney Books, first told us, Neal and I were elated. And the preliminary sketches we've seen so far are out of this world -- we can't wait for the ARCs!

by Neal Shusterman & Eric Elfman
Coming from Disney-Hyperion Books
February 2014

Are you writing a book? Make it the best it can be! |  | One-on-One Writing Coach & Group Workshops

Saturday, February 16, 2013


 These blogs are on Fire:

We writers all need a little help every once in a while...well, in my case, I need help everyday. And, here's where I find it. 

Some of these blogs are very official, written by big companies with magazine sales, etc... Some of them are written by groups of authors, and some are lone bloggers. All have great insider information in the Kid Lit world.

If you know of a blog worth spreading the word about, please post it in comments! I'll check it out and maybe blog about it...

With a little help, you can write that book! Get to it.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Interview with Alexis O'Neill: Children's Book Author

 I met Alexis at a Tahoe SCBWI writer's retreat. She was fun, energetic, and full of helpful ideas for authors regarding writing and school visits. 

I reached out to her via Facebook, and asked for an interview. And, even with her busy schedule, she said yes! Thank you Alexis. Your advice rocks and so do you!! And, so do your books!!!

Below are the questions I asked her:

1.    Describe your writing in 5 words:  

My stories are verbaliciously spare.

2.    Your children's books have won many awards. Which one surprised you the most?

 The most gratifying awards are the ones kids vote on in their states.  A cool pewter cup that the Virginia Reading Association sent me for The Recess Queen holds my colored Sharpies, so I think of those kids often!

   3.    What are you working on right now? 

A tween novel.

   4.    Have you got to meet the illustrators of your books? And, was it collaboration, or were they chosen for you? 

   All of my illustrators were chosen for me. And my editors all had great taste! I’ve talked with Nancy Carpenter, who illustrated Loud Emily, after our book was published, but haven’t met her in person yet. But I met Laura Huliska-Beith after The Recess Queen came out, and now we’re Facebook friends. She’s as bouncy and fun and her illustration style!

5.    What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast? 

   I get up around seven, stumble downstairs with three cats weaving around my ankles, pour the first of three cups of coffee and read the newspaper while watching Good Morning America (mostly to pick up the latest celebrity gossip) and eating a cheese omelet or oatmeal. I usually get to my desk by about 8:30 a.m. on days when I don’t work out in the pool at the Family Y.  

6.    You belong to SCBWI – Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators. Why? How has it helped your career? 

  SCBWI has made all the difference in the world! In addition to finding my “tribe,” the workshops and conferences helped me hone both my craft and business skills.

   7.    What other associations or organizations would you recommend?  

  I believe in supporting teachers and librarians, so I belong to literacy organizations including California Reading Association, California School Library Association and more. On the professional side, I belong to The Authors Guild, an advocacy group that offers fabulous help for authors like me who do not have agents.

8.    What is the funniest thing a child has asked you about your books?  

  This was “funny” in that it was an unusual question from a kid. A second grader in South Central Los Angeles, after a class discussion about revisions, asked, “Have you ever lost confidence in something you were working on?” That question blew me away!

   9.    Why do you think school author visits have gone down in the past five years? 

  When the economy tanked in 2007, that was the beginning of extreme belt-tightening in the schools.  Library services were cut, positions eliminated and teachers and librarians were not being supported to attend conferences, the best places for exchanging ideas and meeting authors and illustrators. 

  But something else happened: during this time, there was a change in the way author visits were valued. The No Child Left Behind program squeezed schools, valued testing above all else, and put teachers on such a tight schedule, they couldn’t take time for assemblies. But with the coming Common Core program, all that is already changing. Authors are being seen as having valuable skills to share with kids. I’m already seeing an upswing in invitations and, frankly, happier teachers!

   10.  What advice would you give to an author going to their first school visit? 

   Practice! Try out your presentation on a classroom first and get feedback from the teachers. Also, read my blog, for lots of advice on how to shape a program.

11. Do you still dabble in theatre? Written any scripts? Plays?  

   I love to attend plays, but I no longer produce, direct or act in them. I get my “performance” kicks from doing school visits and inviting kids on stage to act out stories.

12. What's the best thing about visiting a school? 

   Seeing kids become really excited about reading and writing. And having my own parking spot.

13.  Who is your biggest cheerleader? 

  My husband, David!

14. What words of advice do you have for newbie writers?  

   Write. Be open to feedback. Rewrite. Repeat until you have a great manuscript, worthy of submission. Oh – and join SCBWI.

15. What gives you the most difficulty when writing, and how do you overcome it?  

  Unstitching chapters in novels for revision is a challenge. But I take it a step at a time and try not to get overwhelmed by the larger task ahead.

  16. Was there someone in your past that saw this writing talent in you and helped you along? If so, who was it?  

  One teacher in college wrote on the top of my short story, “I think you ought to submit this to Mademoiselle Magazine for publication.” Until then, publishing was not on my radar. He planted a seed that grew over time.

17. Have you ever written about the airplane crash that you survived? 

   I wrote an article about the crash, illustrated with photographs, for Odyssey magazine for their issue called “Survival,” December 2005.

18. What do you do when you get free time? Other hobbies? Sleep? 

   I swim, make art, play with our three cats, watch Castle and Downton Abbey, and travel with my husband, David.

19. Where is the best place to get a cup of Joe or tea in your town?  

  In our kitchen.

(A: Is that an invitation, Alexis? wink, wink.)

20. Is there anything on your writing desk that is a must have? Favorite picture? Coffee cup? Best pen?  

   Fine point Sharpies. Bic mechanical pencils. All kinds of paper and stationery. Photos of my family. Assorted stuffed animals. Living cats. 

(A: Glad you clarified Living cats...he he)

21. What one thing if you knew then what you know now, would have made getting published that much easier?  

   Nothing. It’s all a journey and you can’t put a timeline on success. I’ve loved every minute of this life and wouldn’t go back to change anything.

   22. What one word best describes you?


   23. Any big news? 

I have a new picture book for older readers coming out in September 2013 from Calkins Creek called, The Kite That Bridged Two Nations: Homan Walsh and the First Niagara Suspension Bridge. It’s historical fiction, a departure from my other books. It tells the true, dramatic story of how an ordinary boy earned an extraordinary place in history, using his kite to lay the first line for the first suspension bridge at Niagara Falls in the winter of 1848.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Thank you! : to all my awesome readers. You Rock!

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I started writing this blog as a way to keep my writer going when I got stuck in one of my novels. I never thought I'd have 1600 - 3000 readers per month. And, I really, really never thought it would get read around the world.

I love the comments! Keep them coming. And, if there is ever anyone you think I should interview, or write about, please send me a note.

Below is the list of places that Writing Teazurs has been viewed: I thank you all.

  • United States
  • India
  • Argentina
  • United Kingdom
  • Russia
  • Germany
  • Canada
  • France
  • Indonesia
  • Australia
  • Philippines
  • Algeria
  • Taiwan
  • Germany
  • Ukraine
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • China
  • Indonesia
  • Lebanon
  • Malaysia
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • Ireland
  • Algeria
  • Colombia
  • Pakistan
  • Palau
  • Madagascar
  • Thailand
  • Kenya
  • Croatia
  • Poland
  • Japan
  • Turkey
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Macedonia
  • Hungary
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Cote d'Ivoire
  • New Zealand
  • Uruguay

Wow! I am so thankful for all of you, and would love to interview writers & illustrators from your countries. Drop me a line, and we will do it!

Good luck and as always,

This picture just made me smile, so I had to share it! It's exactly how I feel...

Love it!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Writing Coaches and Mentors: Do you need one?

I've been writing for about 9 years now. I gauge it by my oldest son's birthdays. He was 9 months old when I decided "I could write better picture books than I was reading to him." Turns out, I can't. But, I am pretty darn good at dialogue, and action scenes. Now, to put it all together in a novel and get it published...well, I'm still learning.

I have 1 novel done and revised many times over. I have a second one almost finished, working on it's last two chapters now. And, I have a third. The idea hit me hard, and I have about 4 chapters done.

After I finished my first novel, REDWOOD BLOOD. I shopped it around at a few retreats. I read the first chapter at Big Sur 2011, and one of the agents told me to send it to her. It got rejected a few weeks later.

I shopped it around at Tahoe's SCBWI Ellen Hopkins mentor retreat. I was again asked by an agent to send it. I was again rejected after a few weeks. 

Both rejections were personal, and helpful. But, I shelved the project. I got down. I got nervous. What if I couldn't pull it off? I started writing my second novel, THE LINK, ....nothing to do with the first one.

I shopped it at the Big Sur 2012 writer's retreat. And, I again have been asked, once it's finished, to send it....and I will, but at this point in my writing career. I need help. I need professional help. I'm getting nibbles, but not the bite. 

I know sending my work out to only two agents is not going to get me anywhere, but I've decided I want a portfolio of work before I jump in with both feet and send to fifty.

I've been doing okay writing alone, and using my SCBWI critique group to help me when I get stuck, but now, I need someone in the business above me and my colleagues. I need a mentor, or a writing coach.

Luckily, I met such an author at the Big Sur retreat in December. His name is Lewis Buzbee. He's been teaching writing for 19 years at the master's degree level. He's also a published writer many times over, and an award winning author. And, the best part, he believes in my work. 

We started our coaching just last week in January 2013. I'm marking it on my calendars, because in 6 months time I do believe that my novels will be polished and really, really ready to be sent out to agents and publishing houses.

I'll keep you all posted as the months go by. 
But for now, here's how it's set up:

  • 50 pages will be critiqued per month by Lewis
  • once a month we will meet, along with 3 other writers at the same level and we will discuss our manuscripts
  • Lewis will give talks, and guidance on a personal level, as well as a group level
  • When needed, there will be phone conversations to help propel my ms forward
  • I can email him anytime with a question
  • this is paid coaching / we discussed fees and all 4 writers agreed on pricing
  • the meetings will be scheduled so that all of us can make them / no one will be left out
  • At the end of 6 months, Lewis will help us decide on who is the best match for our work and help with query letters
  • We can also decide then if we want to continue with a new project

Suggestions to you:

If you are a seasoned writer, and you have at least one novel completed and revised, look into hiring a mentor or writing coach.

Today, most writers, who get published, have paid an editor to help them. Competition is high, and agents don't have the time to read 50 pages of your work to see if there's something there. They may read 10, usually they read the query and the 1st page. There's no way they can see what a writer is capable of, but the facts are the facts.

Check out your local colleges for writing teachers. You may also find someone through writer's associations, like SCBWI or Mystery Writers. See if any of them have personal websites, and send a message. Also, check the going rates in your area for mentors and coaches. 

And, if you thrive on a critique group setting, see if any of your writing friends want to get coached as a group. The rates will drop, and you just might all get published together. 

Good Luck!
And as always,

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Margaret Farnsworth: Author of Rise and Shine It's Easter

 I met Margaret through Facebook. She's self-published four children's books, and I wanted to know her process. 

Margaret grew up on a farm, and because of that she knows hard work. She's working on her craft, making connections, and reading to children. 

If you are relatively new to writing, fear not!  Margaret's got some great advice for you.

Below are the questions I asked her:

1. Describe your writing process:

I do it in steps…..

A. Decide what I want this book to be about. 
B.  What I want to happen in the story. 
C.  The ending (how I am going to get the book there) 
D.  Then I am ready to do my plot of my book getting it from the beginning to the ending. 
E.  Then I do my illustrations and pick a Title. Edit for errors save as a doc. Place book onto a flash drive and take to my editor at the print shop.

2. Why children's books?

Children learn at a very young age to either love books and read or they hate reading. I remember as a child the book mobile coming every Thursday out into the rural area that I lived in. I would get so excited. I want children to be excited about reading one of my books. 

When I dress in character for the book that I am reading I love to see the smiles on their faces, and the twinkle in the eyes of a child as I read to them. That is why I write children’s books. That is my reward to myself.

3. How many children's books have you published and what are their titles?  

I presently have four books on the market that I have self-published. 

My first book Mrs. Claus and her Magical Pillowcases can be bought individually or comes in a package with the magic pillowcase and a letter from Santa along with the book. These are sold only through schools, book signings and craft and book shows. 

The second book Oh No! Santa’s Grumpy can be purchased by its self or it comes with a CD with a little song about Santa being Grumpy. The book is on in both paperback and kindle versions and can be purchased through schools, book signings, and craft and book shows.  

The third book Rise and Shine its Easter is on in the Kindle version and may be purchased through schools, book signings, craft and book shows. 

The fourth book Santa’s Christmas Surprise just came out before Christmas this year, and can be purchased through schools, book signings, book and craft shows.  

I presently am working on two new books to publish later this spring.

4. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?

 That depends. Four days a month I work in the Intensive Care Unit at one of our two local hospitals and have to get up at 5:00 A M. If I get a chance to go to the cafeteria I will get gravy and biscuit and bacon. The rest of the time I get up around 7:30-8:00 AM and have various breakfasts of things like cereal and fruit, cream of wheat or oats, maybe just toast and sometimes scrambled eggs and meat.

5. How has being born, and raised on a farm molded your writing and ideas?

Being raised on the farm you are placed right in the middle of green fields and blue skies, out in the open to see nature at its best. Raising the food that you eat with all your hard labor, watching the birth of an animal and looking out across row after row of snow white cotton, soy beans, rice and corn and we tend to write what we know most about.

I was raised an only child, so to play games and such I had to invent imaginary friends so thus the love for writing about fantasy was born. 

On a farm you are surrounded by so much nature that in my writing it comes easy for me to pick up on writing about animals and life in a Simple way. 

My parents were God Fearing people but gentle as a baby lamb. They did not have easy lives coming up against Mother Nature to get a crop out of the field and harvested.  They taught me the traits of hard work, an honest day’s work for an honest  day’s pay, that even if we work hard, we must except the fact that this does not mean that every day will be a good day but that we have to pick our self up and try again tomorrow. 

That has helped me to accept that all my ideas and stories will not be good ones and not be accepted, but as long as there is a tomorrow there will be some that will be accepted and to be thankful for those that are and to place God in everything that I see or attempt to do.

6. What are you reading right now?

I have just finished a book by Author Debbie Macomber Titled: Thanksgiving Prayer, and have started on a Sherl Woods book Titled:  Where Azaleas Grow. 

I like reading books written by several different Authors but these two are my favorites.

7. How did Rise and Shine It's Easter come to you?

My home town each year has a huge Easter Egg Hunt so that children from all around can get a chance to find eggs and prizes. An airplane flies over our fair grounds and drops over a thousand plastic eggs. Some of them have candy in them and some of them have prizes with one big prize as the lucky egg donated by the town merchants. 

This is done so that children who would otherwise not have a chance to hunt eggs can participate. We have huge turn outs each year. The Easter Bunny is always there and available for pictures. 

I thought this would make a great story line with Mr. Rabbit being the Hero in the story. So that is how Rise and Shine its Easter came into being.

8. Where do you promote your books and why?

What better place than schools, that’s where the children are at so I take my books to them. 

Dressed in character the children, teachers and parents love it. I read them a story and they buy the books. Also Hastings book store has been great about placing my books on their shelves and on allowing Book Signings. Two of my books are on in paperback and Kindle versions. Amazon has been a disappointment to me but hopefully things will get better.

9. Do you belong to any writer's groups or associations? If so, which ones, and why?

Yes, SCBWI is an excellent org. that offers grants, writing contests and writer’s awards that you or your books may be entered in. It has all sorts of helpful information. 

I am also a member of the Northeast Arkansas Writers group. It is a critique group where we are all fairly new writers and we strive to help one another with the various problems that we need an answer to. I find that if a problem comes up usually someone in the group has had the same problem and can help with it like encouragement for one another and help with illustrating, and just too many helpful ideas to list them all.

 I also attend NOLA STARS Workshops in Shreveport, Louisiana these are usually held twice yearly in March and June. They have a lot of award winning authors there who can assist with a book from start to finish. You may attend which ever session you need assistance with. They usually have and agent and a publishing company there to inform you what is required to submit manuscripts and if they accept them with or without an agent representing you. I was asked last year to write an article for the workshop that would be used for advertisement of the event, I was quite honored.

10. Where is the best place for a cup of Joe or tea in your hometown?

We have a Starbucks and also the Cracker Barrel and Ryan’s Restaurants have great tea.

11. What are you working on now?

 It is a children’s book about A Little Princess whose birthday is just a few days away. Her Father the King is surprised at what her birthday wish is. Will he grant it? We shall see.

12. Who is your biggest cheerleader?

I am one of the lucky ones who have six cheerleaders. I absolutely could not attempt to do my books without their expertise. 

My husband Lee is number one; he just smiles and goes along with all my silly ideas. 

My Granddaughter Cheyenne and my sister in law Sonya are my computer whiz when I need extra help which is quite often. 

Then my daughter Crystal and son in law Joel are my sounding blocks for my books. They are great about telling me if something does not sound or look as it should. 

Then when I have the book finished and ready to send to the printer Debbie Grimlich is the one that I owe the life of my book to. She makes sure it looks great, sizes it, makes the cover and prints the books. What a team.

13. Have any teachers now, or in your past helped you on your creative path to writing?

My senior high school literature teacher Mrs. Rosalyn Carlson was determined that we leave her class knowing how to structure a story. Literature was always one of my favorite classes because of her desire to see us succeed. She taught me so much and increased my love of writing.

14. Give 3 rules for newbie writers wanting to get published:

One... would be to know how to use a computer extremely well especially if you are self publishing your books.  

Two... Research really well for the best publishing company with the best prices for you buying copies of your books as well as royalty pricing and in some cases package deals if you are in the need for those services. 

Three... Make sure you understand all the rules and regulations and be sure and read and read again your book to make sure it is just as you want it before you send in your pdf to be published and become public.

15. Do you have an agent? Explain why or why not.

No, I have only been in the business of writing for 2 years.  I have been so busy just learning the ropes.  At the Louisiana Work Shop last year I met an agent and was told when I got ready, send her my manuscripts.  I just have not felt the need at this point.  If I am accepted with this publishing company I am talking with, I will then feel the need for one.

16.  What do you think about critique groups?

I think they are great.  When you are learning the ropes, you need plenty of help from more experienced writers.  They can help you from their past experiences.  Sometimes they can see things you did not and they are great sounding blocks.  Maybe they’ve had a similar experience and they can tell you how they worked it out.  Everyone encouraging each other and talking up your books for you is great advertisement for each other.  Great people coming together to support each other.

17. Where does your cat hang out when you are at your writing desk?

She usually lies at my feet under my chair or somewhere in the room I am in.  If the sun is shining, she loves to lie in the windowsill and let the sun come in on her. 

18. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

Hopefully this will make them want to know more about me and the books that I have to offer.  It is great advertisement for the author and the books.  If an author and their books are new, people have to get acquainted.  If they know nothing about an author, they probably will not by that author’s books.  A good book may set on the shelf and not sell.  This blog will let more readers know more about me which is great.

19. What one word best describes you?


20. Any big news?

I am working on an inspirational book hopefully to be coming out soon. I am stepping up a notch from writing children’s books to writing an adult book.  We will see how that goes, but whatever; my first love is children’s books.