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 Amazon.com 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 amazon.com 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.
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 Amazon.com 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.
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.