Tuesday, November 18, 2014

For NaNoWriMo: A request from Webucator.com

November is in full swing, and National Novel Writing Month, aka (hashtag) #NaNoWriMo, is back! The month has been too chock full of events for me to jump in with quill flying (a novel in one month? Not me, not this time...) except by writing this blog post. 

Rewind a couple of weeks: my email inbox included a request from Bob Clary, Marketing Manager at Webucator.com,  a national training company offering online classes on a wide variety of topics. Bob asked if I’d answer some questions as part of Webucator’s “Tips for Writers” NaNo series, and post them on my blog.
After a dry blog spell, I was ready to warm up my quill again - so thank you, Bob, for the questions. Hopefully some of you NaNo ninjas will find a helpful hint or two. 
Keep working your NaNo magic!  

   What were your goals when you started writing?
It's all Maurice's fault...
Initially, none. From word go I loved writing at school, but it never occurred to me I could be an author. As a teen, I veered toward pop music, and writing songs eventually became my career. Before that took off, though, I was an assistant teacher in an elementary school, which, thanks mainly to Maurice Sendak, planted the seed of wanting to write for children—initially picture books, then novels. Over the years, that seed grew into a socking great tree and insisted I pay attention to it. Even in seed form, I think I always  wanted get published.  

   What are your goals now?
Craft-wise, I'm always looking to hone my skills. Beyond that…More books out in the world! My first children’s fantasy, The Flame in the Mist, came out last year with Delacorte Press/Random House, and promo has taken up so much time and energy that writing has been taking a back seat. So my plan for 2015: reverse the seating arrangement; finish 2 middle grade novels I’m working on; find an agent (so far, I haven’t had one). I’ll continue to do local school visits, though– I love talking with kids about writing.

    What pays the bills now?
I still write songs - a very uncertain income, though. You never know how much you’ll make from year to year. Fortunately my husband, who’s also a musician, did very well in the jingle business when we lived in New York City, and savings from that time are supplementing our income.

     Assuming writing doesn't pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing? 
For me, it’s like reading a great book: once a story hooks me, I can’t wait to get back to it. But although being published is definitely a carrot, it’s not the reason to keep going. It’s the stories themselves –  the characters and their predicaments – that won’t let me be.

Lastly, what advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?
First, be yourself. Don’t follow trends; they’ll be gone by the time you’re ready to publish. So write what you love – and love what you write. You’ll need that love to keep you going through tough parts of the journey, which there will inevitably be. Second, be patient and persistent, both with the writing process (honing, revising, etc) and the time it usually takes to get your first book published. Don’t give up in the face of rejection. Use it to your advantage: keep honing, revising, work on craft – and grow a thick skin. Remember, rejection isn’t personal! Every published author has faced it. It’s the ones who keep going that break through. 

Happy writing everyone, NaNoWriMo and beyond!

More authoring tips: For those curious about what Webucator has to offer, check out their 2 NaNoWriMo posts to date, here, and here.