FAQs for Readers
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I did. At least as soon as I understood how to string words and sentences together.
Did you ever want to be anything else?
In sixth grade I auditioned for a role in my school play, Godspell. It’s a musical. I love singing and didn’t mind being on a stage. If I were to choose any other artistic profession, it would have been acting.
What’s your favorite color?
What’s your favorite food?
Hot dogs, although I know they aren’t the best choice for a healthy diet. My favorite way to eat them is with sauerkraut and mustard. Yum!
What do you do for fun when you aren’t writing and reading books?
I love walking and exploring new cities by foot. You discover so many things that you wouldn’t whizzing by in a car. I also love going to plays and music concerts, watching corny romantic comedies, and volunteering at my local public library.
Do you have any siblings?
I don’t. I’m an only child.
Where do your stories come from?
All of my stories – whether picture books or novels – start with personal inspiration. Someone or something in my life has made a lasting emotional impact and I feel compelled to start writing. The rest is pure imagination. So I’d say it’s 10% inspiration and 90% imagination.
FAQs for Aspiring Authors
I’ve always wanted to write/publish books. Where do I start?
Every author has their own journey. And no two journeys are the same. However, there are some habits that you should develop now that will help in both writing and publishing your work.
First, read as many books as you can in the genre/category that you want to write. By some I mean no less than three dozen, although I’ve heard as many as 100! Challenge yourself to read books even if you don’t think you’ll like them. The purpose for this is twofold: 1) you’ll begin to notice with close reading the writing techniques that authors use to construct stories and 2) you’ll get a sense of what’s already out on the market as you begin to craft your own stories.
Second, find yourself a community of likeminded readers and writers to talk about books. This can be taking a writing class or joining a book discussion group at your local library. It doesn’t have to be getting your MFA and toiling away in a graduate program for two years, even if your end goal is teaching.
Finally, connect with your favorite authors. Love a book you read? Go to the author’s website and let them know. If they are visiting your local library or bookstore, try to attend the event. Introduce yourself. You’ll find (especially in the world of children’s books) that authors are gracious and more than happy to connect and offer support.
I’ve written a story/book now what?
That community of readers/writers that you developed? It’s time to share your work with them. Do understand that not every reader is going to provide the best feedback to help you grow as a writer. Be clear about what kind of constructive criticism you are seeking. I strongly recommend not sharing early drafts with those closest to you (partner/sibling/best friend). These lovely humans are often well meaning and can either tell you it’s amazing/the best thing they’ve ever read OR just the opposite, trampling all over your fragile writing ego without even knowing it.
What lessons have you learned on your journey to becoming an author?
Oh, there are many lessons and I suspect there will be many more.
The first lesson I learned is not every book you write will find a home. I wrote two adults novels and queried agents for a year with no luck. After that defeat, I took a hiatus from writing for a decade. I returned and wrote one Middle Grade novel, snagged a competitive mentorship to revise it, got an agent, and went on submission. Hooray! But no editor made an offer to buy it. The lesson: Keep writing.
The second lesson I learned is you are selling your creative fruits to a business. And like all businesses, its end goal is to make a profit. Mixing a creative and subjective pursuit like writing with the business known as the publishing industry means there’s no such thing as fair. The market may be begging for a story like yours, but getting a book or short story collection or collection of poetry traditionally published is about 20% talent and 80% being in the right place, at the right time, in front of the right people. The lesson: It’s not personal. It’s business.
The final lesson is something most authors don’t share because we all assume aspiring authors know this already. Becoming an author is a long game with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Finding your champions in other readers/writers, developing and fine tuning your writing craft through months (maybe years) of feedback, and navigating what can often be a glacially slow agent query and publisher acquisition process is not for the faint of heart. It all requires optimism, stamina, persistence, and a deep well of patience to get from first draft to a book on a shelf in your local bookstore. The lesson: Find pleasure in the process of writing, learning, and revising.