Famous Authors Interviews – Words of Wisdom

Be prepared to be shocked… authors, even the extremely famous ones , are real people – like you and me. ¬†I know, shocking huh? ūüėČ

Honestly though, while I’m glued to my computer for my day job, I enjoy listening to interviews with these real people. Their¬†thoughts are inspiring and motivating – especially if you’re a writer too.

I was capitvated by J.K. Rowling’s interview with Oprah (see below). If you have 45 minutes it’s worth the watch (or listen, like I did). If not, I’ve included links to some other famous childrens author interviews I enjoyed (that are a lot shorter).

Be prepared though – you’ll want to write as soon as you’re done listening. Might want to save some time for that for later.

— click on the author’s name to see the video —

Author InterviewsJ.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series) -CLICK HERE-:

She is the ultimate rags to riches story. One of my favorite things about her is her ability to remember what life was like before fame and to not lose sight of that. So refreshing!

Jon Scieszka (True Story of the Three Little Pigs) – CLICK HERE-:

What a funny guy. I really enjoyed hearing his thoughts on reading and boys – how they struggle to read more than girls. I just enjoyed this interview in general, his happiness is contagious.

Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee, Stargirl) – CLICK HERE-:

I enjoy Spinelli’s writing style – so I was eager to hear his interview. I loved that hated¬†reading the required reading in school because I always struggled with that as well.

Beverly Cleary (Ramona and Beezus) – CLICK HERE-:

Beverly was a children’s librarian before becoming an author. She got in to writing because the children weren’t satisfied with the books that were available.¬†She never received a rejection letter – ever!

 Lois Lowry (The Giver) РCLICK HERE-:

Lois Lowry dropped out of college and finished after he children were all in school. She never submitted a story formally. She was approached by an editor and asked to try writing a story for children – which turned in to her first novel.

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Mo Willems

Mo Willems (Elelphant and Piggie, Pigeon) -CLICK HERE-:

Mo fell into writing almost by accident, but man am I glad he did. I LOVE the Elephant Piggie series.

Katherine Paterson (Author of Bridge to Terabithia) -CLICK HERE-: 

She stresses the importance of reading as an author. She also talks about the real life death that inspired the book The Bridge to Terabithia.

Kate DiCamillo (Author of Because of Winn-Dixie, Mercy Watson) -CLICK HERE-: 

Kate says she loves to finish stories but doesn’t actually love to write them. Each morning she has to convince herself to get the writing done.¬†Man, I can relate to that some days.

Before you head off to to do some writing yourself, would you share comment below about something that motivates you to write? Thanks!

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Critique Circle

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 CritiqueCircle.com

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 HOW IT WORKS:  

Once you’re willing to let other humans read your works and are sick of pestering your friends to read your stories, it’s time to create a Critique Circle account. Creating a free account is easy, and you can start¬†critiquing others work in the Story Queue right away.¬†You earn credits for the critiques you give (typically around one credit a critique- more if it’s a longer piece). Then you use those credits to¬†get your own stories added to the queue. It takes 3 credits to post your own story. If you want to post more than one story during the same critique period, the subsequent stories will cost more credits.

They have different queues¬†for the many different genres of writing. You are open CC-Queuesto critique from and post your work to any queue you’d like. At first, I preferred to stick to posting my work in the “Newbies” queue which lets others on the site know you’re new to this. There is limited time to post here, but I recommend you use it while you can. ¬†After that, I recommend you find your genre(s) and stick to reading and posting there since¬†you’ll find writers with similar interests who have more experience in your type of writer (makes their critiques much more helpful).

Stories are left up for one week and receive between 2 and 8 critiques each – sometimes more, sometimes less. You can stop accepting critiques at any point. After reading the nice things people say,¬†give them a ‘grade’ for their hard work and start the reading, posting cycle all over again. ¬†Simple!

WHY I  LIKE IT:

My husband has phenomenal editing skills, but I can only ask him to read so many of my manuscripts before it starts to feel abusive. Critique Circle lets me¬†see my manuscript through the eyes of readers who don’t know me, so they’re more honest than husband is (smart man). There is even the option to critique anonymously, if you’d like.

The site encourages critiquers (or “critters”) to be constructive while still being positive. 98% of the users of the site stick to this beautifully. Most critiques left me feeling good and ready to make their suggested changes.

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The other – less tactful – 2% I chalked up to it being “them not me” and would do my darnedest to set their opinion aside. With any critique site you have to go in to it¬†realizing that just like you don’t like everything you read, there will be people who don’t prefer your work. It doesn’t mean it’s not good, or not marketable, it just means it’s not their taste. Those are the critiques you politely thank for their time and then ignore their suggestions. If you remember to stay polite regardless of what’s being thrown your way then¬†you’ll see that kindness reciprocated.

OTHER FEATURES:

While I can’t begin to list them all, there is a lot more than just story queues on their site. ¬†There are forums where you can meet and talk with other writers. Messaging so you can talk back and forth. Tools to track your progress. Writing exercises, games. Resources to answer your publishing/writing questions and blog posts to keep you encouraged. You really have to join to see everything they have to offer. ¬†With Premium memberships your options are even greater for a small monthly fee.

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COST:

Basic Service is FREE. Premium membership for around $3 per month and Gold for about $6.

WHY YOU SHOULD USE IT:

Agents, editors – they all want to know if your work has been reviewed by others and for good reason. Your work is your baby, and like the parent of that¬†awkward looking baby that has NO clue their child isn’t cute – you¬†have to have someone that isn’t in love with your story look at it and honestly tell you if it’s awkward, cute or just a ugly duckling story that hasn’t been revised into a swan yet.¬†Critique Circle is a great place for that. I recommend you give it a try.

CHECK OUT THEIR SITE:

www.critiquecircle.com

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CLICK HERE

NaNo – NaNo – NaNoWriMo

Am I the only one that thinks of Mork and Mindy whenever someone talks about NaNoWriMo?

Mork and Mindy

Let’s just push past how old I’m feeling at this moment and get to the good stuff. A great blog post, by someone else.

I have never participated in NaNoWriMo, but just signed up to do it this year, all because of Liana Brooks blog post on Critique Circle. She took what ¬†seemed like a monstrous feat and chopped it up into tangible tasks. I’m working on Step 5 right now¬†and kind of wish I could dive into the writing already.

So, without further ramblings, here’s the good stuff. I do caution…¬†once you get to the end of this post you might feel crazy enough to sign up too. You have been warned!

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NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – can we be honest for a second? You are only doing NaNo for one of three reasons:

1) You need to get into a daily writing habit and writing 1666 words a day for a month is a good way of developing that habit.

2) You need to get a big chunk of writing done in a hurry and 50,000 words in a month ain’t a full novel for most genres, but it ain’t too shabby either.

3) You’re friends are threatening to steal your fuzzy socks and your chocolate stash if you don’t join.

See, the 50,000 words you get when you win NaNoWriMo aren’t the prize, they’re the byproduct. Winning NaNoWriMo means spending the month of November turning yourself into a better writer. And I want to help you be a winner.

There’s pages and pages of writing advice on the internet. You could read books on writing, and nuance, and metaphor. If you’re lucky you’ll spend your entire life reading great books and learning from other authors, but not amount of learning is going to help you get off the starting block and to writing a book unless you know where to start. So that’s what this post is about: how to prep for NaNoWriMo.

Mid-October you need to set aside a day for NaNoWriMo planning. You’re going to be doing your research, basic plotting, and some very simple outlining. It you’re a Plotter who needs to have all the details written down, fine, add more. If you’re a Pantster (like me!) you’ll find this method isn’t overwhelming and leaves lots of room for improvisation. Once you’ve got your date set grab something to make notes on and give yourself five hours to work… and yes it’s perfectly fine to do this in fifteen minute increments over the month of October. You’re busy, and that’s normal. ūüôā

Step 1: Write the elevator pitch for your novel.

Don’t get hung up on finding an original plot or the perfect pitch right now. Just pick an idea that tickles your imagination and run with it. The fact that you are writing it will make it unique. Every person is different, and so is every story!

– In two sentences or less write what you’re going to write your book about. It doesn’t need to be perfect, you just need to verbalize it somehow.

– If you don’t know what to write about look for inspiration in art work, online story prompts, the NaNoWriMo Adopt A Plot forum, or on Tumblr where the Out Of Context D&D people give anyone with a pulse an urge to write fantasy.

– Can’t decide on just one plot? No problem! Plan them all out. Start writing whichever catches your fancy in November and write the others next year.

Step 2: Use the Dime Novel Formula

This is 100% stolen from the author of the Doc Savage novels Kenneth Robeson (Lester Dent) and he deserves full credit. Partial credit goes to British author Tim Dedopulos who wrote a NaNoWriMo post in 2010 entitled How To Write A Novel In Three Days. We’re using a modified version of his method….

– Lester Dent said every good novel needed four things: A new way to kill someone, a new thing for the villain to want, a new place, and a menace that threatens your hero at every turn.

– Write down your four things.

Step 3: You Need Four Plot Twists

No one likes a book where they can guess the ending on page one. It’s boring. Plot twists set in the right place along the course of the book will give your reader a wild ride that keeps them reading long past bedtime. Plan on at least four plot twists.

–¬†Plot twist #1¬†comes in the first quarter of the book. “You’re a wizard, Harry.” “I found a wardrobe that leads to a kingdom of snow and my brother ate the evil queen’s Turkish Delight!” etc. You get the idea.

–¬†Plot Twist #2¬†comes about 40% of the way through the book, this one’s the gut punch. The hero loses something, they’re betrayed, something horrible happens and at all cost you must leave the readers thinking there is no way your hero can ever find a happy ending after this. If you’re George R. R. R. Martin this is where you kill [spoiler redacted], you soulless fiend.

–¬†Plot Twist #3¬†comes at the climax of the story, when the fate of the universe hangs by a thread, and then suddenly PLOT TWIST! something amazing happens. Harry comes back from the dead. Loki really didn’t kill Thor. Mulan shoots Shan Yu with a firework and the Emperor bows to her.

–¬†Plot Twist #4… and I know you’re scratching your head here… this one comes in the last pages of the book. The villain confesses they did it all for the love of the hero, the hero pulls the sword from the stone and finds out it’s plastic, the long-lost princess realizes she rescued the wrong kingdom! This is the very final twist that keeps the book alive after the last page is turned. It may seem diabolic, especially if you’re not writing a series, but it lets the reader believe the characters will live on and have more adventures even after the book ends, and that’s important.

Step 4: You Need Three Villains

Early in my writing career I wrote several novels that were great except the pacing and tension seemed almost nonexistent. It wasn’t until I wrote a book with a well fleshed out villain that I realized my early novels suffered from a lack of antagonist. Save yourself some tears and define your villains up front.

– Who is your Primary Antagonist? This is the villain that shows up one page one and gives our hero grief but who may not be a villain all along. If you’re writing an Enemies-To-Lovers romance this antagonist will wind up being a hero in the end.

– ¬†Who is your Second Antagonist? The Middle Villain, is the one who comes in the center of the book (hence the name) and who the hero didn’t see as a problem beforehand. Either this antagonist was a friend before and betrayed the hero, or they become a villain because of the hero’s actions in achieving the first quest of the book. This antagonist carries a lot of weight and deals the hero the most set backs. They’re the one that drives the hero to the moment of despair and strips them of everything (which is why a betrayer makes such a good second villain). While dealing with the second antagonist the hero stumbles into a realization of who the bigger villain is. If you’re writing a series with One Big Villain driving the series (think Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews or Star Wars where the Emperor is the Big Bad) you’ll have the hero defeat a series of Middle Villains in each book and only face The One Big Bad in the final book. If you’re writing a series driven by Hero’s Choice this second villain will bounce between being a villain and being a temporary ally (think the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs or Star Trek where Romulans and Klingons are sometimes enemies and sometimes friends). The other series option is the No Hero series like Game of Thrones where everyone is an antagonist and a protagonist in their own mind.

– Who is the Third Antagonist? The Big Bad, the villain whose presence is felt but unknown throughout the book. In a series, you may not see this person until the end of the series. The best part about this kind of antagonist is it invites readers to reread so they can catch the earlier clues. You really can save this villain for the very end, or at least the last 1/3 of the book. They usually appear around the hero’s Moment Of Despair, when the hero has lost all hope, friends, support, and belief in themself. This is the villain that defines the hero. Because the hero looks up from the mud and blood and despair and say, “I cannot let you do this. I cannot let you win even if I lose everything.” The decision to fight this villain when all hope is lost, at great personal sacrifice, is what makes an ordinary person a hero. And because the hero is coming from such a low point, beaten and fragile, their victory is all the more sweet in the end.

*Whew! Got all that? Okay. Good. Take a breather because the next section is there we’re going to tackle the nitty gritty. You ready?*

Step 5: Building The World

Do you know what derails the most NaNoWriMo novelists? The research. They pause to look up a name, or find a place to set a scene, and then they’re lost down the rabbit hole of research and you find them wandering bookstores in mid-January wondering why people are hanging Valentine’s Day decorations. It’s sad, really. And you, smarty that you are, are going to dodge that bullet by naming everything right now!

– Make a list of 25 female names and 25 male names for your book. You can do it by culture or race if you need to, but get it done before November 1st. And, remember, if you hate the name November 15th you can change it in edits. That’s why we have the Search-Replace function.

– Make a list of all the modes of transport in your book. If you have spaceships or sailing vessels make a list of names for them too. Ten minimum. More is better. Pick a theme if you’re having trouble, like naming all the ships in your fleet after minerals: Jasper, Feldspar, Malachite…

– Make a list of all the places you might set a scene. Name the cafes, name the fields, name the forests, name the nebulas, name the schools, name the rooms. You may not use them all but they’ll be there if you need them.

– Make a list of all your props: weapons, clothes, whatever will be on stage goes right here. If it helps, pretend you’re planning a play. Picture what you might need. And feel free to add more when you start writing. These lists are guidelines only, you can use them or lose them to your heart’s content.

Step 6: The Setting Thesaurus

This is going to take a bit of time, so plan ahead. What you need to do here is follow the excellent example set by Becca and Angela and make a thesaurus for all the scenes.

– Honestly, this is more for the Plotters who need to know everything. Pantsters, write five or six key words to describe each place, one for each major sense. If you have more or have something you really want to see in that place, scribble it down.

РBookmark the Emotion Thesaurus and Setting Thesaurus in case of emergencies in November.

Step 7: Time For The Math

NaNoWriMo is meant to be thirty days of steady writing, but let’s be realistic, unless you’re life is perfect you won’t be writing all thirty days. Look at your calendar right now and decide how many days you can write. For me is about 24 days in November. I take weekends off to spend time with my kids and I’ll be too busy cooking on Thanksgiving to write.

– Grab a calculator. Divide 50,000 by the number of days you have to write. This number is your target word count if you want to have 50,000 words at the end of the month.

– 50,000 isn’t a full novel for adult genres and most YA. If you really want a novel in a month you need to do that math with 75,000 words. I’m sorry.

– Curse yourself. Cry. Google WRITE OR DIE. Thank the creators of WRITE OR DIE for all they have done for you. Bookmark WRITE OR DIE. Tell your family and friends you love them, and then go buy some note cards.

Step 8: The Dread Outline

This trick I actually picked up from a fellow Critique Circle writer my first year participating in NANOWRIMO. She said she spent Halloween night handing out candy and writing scenes on a note card. One card per writing day with all the scenes she needed to write.

– Let’s pretend you have 25 writing days in November and you want 50,000 words. That’s 2000 words on each of your writing days, or one scene per day.

– Pick out 25 cards and write one or two sentences describing a scene you want to write on each card.

– Put a small sticker or check mark on Plot Twist days and mark the days on your calendar. You’ll probably be writing a plot twist on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th of November.

– Rearrange, discard, or rewrite anything that doesn’t seem to make sense.

– REMEMBER! This is only the rough draft. It’s meant to be rough. You are aiming to write something ugly. Everything will be smoothed and polished in edits. These cards can be changed at any time, they’re really here to be your count down clock to victory. No panicking allowed.

Step 9: Write Like A Pro

Can I share a teeny tiny little secret with you? There’s not an author alive who knows what they’re doing. That blank page is just as blank for you as it is for your favorite author. Every person is unique. Every person will write differently and in different ways. There is no wrong way to be an author.

– Sit down.

– Write.

– All the planning you did, that’s there for reference. All those lists and names and plot twists were written down so your subconscious could have time to play with the ideas and present you with the scenes when it’s time to write. On November 1st all you have to do is show up and write.

– If you get stuck, check your notes.

– If you go running down a new avenue just make sure to connect with your plot twist.

– Never abandon your villains, they’re what makes your hero a hero.

– Write.

– Keep writing.

– Don’t give up.

– Have fun.

Sign up for NaNoWriMo 2014 here.

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Did you say no? I heard yes.

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My eight year old¬†daughter won’t take no for an answer. Frequently she gets an idea in her head and sinks her teeth into it – pit bull style. There’s no prying her off an idea she loves. She doesn’t ask “Can we go to the park?” ¬†She asks, “When are we leaving for the park?” One tiresome afternoon (after many, many¬†nos to “Can we go to the park?”) she¬†collected my purse and keys, ¬†got her shoes on and announced that it was time to go. ‘No’ doesn’t work with her unless you want to hear “When, then?” (I didn’t, so I caved and we went).

pitbullEvery writer needs a little ‘pit bull’ in their blood. Myself included. We’ve all gotten rejections; form letters, the ‘not quite right’ ones, the note on the manuscript followed with a nice ‘try again.’ They’re all no’s, we’re not fooled. But if we’re pit bulls, the next thought (the one that comes after the wallowing and pint of ice cream) should be “When, then?”

It’ll happen. My daughter gets to go to the park eventually and we’ll get to see our story in print too. Just sink your teeth in and resubmit.

What do you do with your story when it gets rejected?

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: ¬†“Wham! Hitting the Publishing Brick Wall” – Click Here

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