The Love Shack

This post is long overdue. You see, friends, I have been working on a Secret Project of Joy (in addition to conspiring to send my daughter away to military camp, aka Preschool). My Secret Project of Joy is transforming our garage guest room, the “Love Shack” as we like to call it, into a place I can actually work.

The first step was covering up the orange paint.

I am anything but a designer. Like most people, I enjoy being surrounded by beauty. When I get tired of standing in front of the mirror, I am left to find beauty in my environment. Husband and I picked out this great tile to go in the Love Shack, a terra cotta with blue designs on it (click here to see it up close). (By the way, I don’t recommend this tile unless you enjoy scraping bar codes off the floor. Some genius decided to put the bar codes on the TOP of each tile. As we are a lazy/busy family, there are still tiles with bar codes on them. In fact, the only ones without bar codes are a gift of my mother’s hard work. Thanks, Mom.)

As I was saying…I tried to match the terra cotta tile. And do an accent wall. Thankfully, I can’t find any photos of the old Love Shack, because although people were nice enough about it, it was Ugly. A few months ago I went out there to write, and as I sat on the bed, looking around (not writing), I couldn’t help but notice the pleasing sandy color I’d chosen was orange. Orange!

So on Mother’s Day, I painted the heck out of those walls, to a nice soft Informal Ivory. Now it’s Very Boring, which is better than orange, and I can always kick up the color a bit with the trim. And paint some poems on the walls, maybe some birds and stars. It’s MY ROOM. Yeah, guests sometimes sleep in it, so I don’t want to put anything disturbing on the walls, like these prints we got to enjoy when staying in a hotel room in Nasca, Peru:

Sweet dreams!

Don't let the bed bugs (er, horses) bite!

We weren’t sure which one we liked more, but we think the execution scene really sets the mood for peaceful slumber.

It’s clean and cozy, there’s a full bathroom, and even better: I can get work done in there. I’ve got lots of plans for the room, and the only challenge to my writing will be that I need to sit still and write, not putter about fixing up the place. In the meantime, it’s  a workable writer’s studio. I like to call it my “sink paceuary” (taken from “peace sanctuary” when I was doing the Hypnobirthing CD – don’t laugh).

Finally moved my story board from the bedroom wall to the Love Shack.

“All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point — a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,” Virginia Woolf so famously said. Actually, I’d forgotten about the money part until I looked it up, and I now wish I had left the quote to memory. Anyway. I at least have the room of my own. It’s enough.

ETA: I was inspired to write about the Love Shack after doing Erin Bow’s interview. Her fantastic digs (located in a pole dancing studio!) make the Love Shack look tame by comparison.

NiFtY Author: Mike Orenduff

Joining us today is NiFtY (Not Famous…Yet) author Mike Orenduff, creator of the Pot Thief mystery series. His first book, The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, won the Epic eBook Award for 2010, and The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy is up for the award this year…we’ll know soon if it wins!

BH: What’s your one-paragraph pitch for the latest novel in your Pot Thief mystery series, The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier?

MO:  Against his better judgment, Hubie agrees to design, throw, and fire chargers for a soon-to-open Austrian restaurant in Santa Fe. The $20,000 fee probably had something to do with his decision. But when one of the workers winds up dead in the back of Hubie’s old Bronco, he wants to take his edelweiss design home and not come back. His entry into the high stakes game of upscale dining turns even more dangerous when the coroner discovers that the poison that killed the cook was one of Hubie’s glazing compounds.

BH: When you wrote the first novel, The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, did you plan to create a series mystery?

MO: Yes. Mystery readers love series. I know because I’m a fan myself, and there is nothing worse than finding a mystery you love then discovering there are no more books from that author to read.

BH: I agree! Do you have a “series bible,” or some sort of record of facts so that you can keep details straight among (and within) the different novels?

MO: I do, and it comes in handy. I had Hubie twenty pounds heavier in Escoffier than he was in Pythagoras until I looked in the “bible” and saw my mistake. If I hadn’t caught it, maybe I could have just claimed he gained weight?

BH: Hubert Schuze is a thief, but he is also the protagonist, so you want the reader to like him and maybe even identify with him. How did you go about making him into a sympathetic character?

MO:  I try to make his rationalizations of what he does interesting and funny. And I show the good side of his character in other ways. Except for comic books, protagonists have flaws.

BH: Can you tell us about your path to your first publishing contract?

MO:  Long and winding, but then that is probably true of most writers. I tried querying those publishers who were accepting queries. I also queried agents, which are about as difficult to get as publishers. I finally found an agent who was excited about my work and signed on. Then she suggested I enter contests to get my name out there. I won the Dark Oak contest with The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras. The prize was a publication contract. I hope the judges who selected my work are pleased that the book has since won the “Eppie” for the best eBook Mystery of the Year and the New Mexico Book of the Year.

BH: What does your workspace look like? Do you collect antique pots?

MO: If I posted a picture of my workspace, my wife might file for divorce. It is a mess on one wall of the kitchen, and I am under orders to relocate. Except for those on the New York Times Best Seller List, writers don’t make enough money to collect antique pots.

BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

MO: I have never read a book on writing. I have nothing against them, and I imagine there are some that people find helpful. I prefer to observe the craft rather than read about it.

BH: What is the best writing advice anyone has given you?

MO: My dissertation advisor, Dr. Harold Lee, told me not to fret about the opening of a book because you’ll never get started if you keep trying to make the start perfect. “Just start writing,” he said, “and keep writing until you finish the last chapter. Then go back to the first chapter and throw it out.” And that’s exactly what I do.

BH: Any words on advice to aspiring writers for keeping the hope alive?

MO: If you have a passion for writing, that should be enough to keep you going. And if you keep going, you keep alive the possibility of that break we all dream about.

BH: Thank you, Mike, for sharing your insights into your writing and your books with us today, and best of luck with the EPIC Award! For more about Mike Orenduff, you can visit his website by clicking here!

NiFtY Author: Marilyn Meredith

Whoo-hoo! First NiFtY (Not Famous…Yet) Author Interview of 2011! Meet Marilyn Meredith, author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries and the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series.

BH: Tell us a little about your latest book, Invisible Path.

MM: The official blurb is: The only suspect in the murder of a popular Native American is another Indian with the unlikely name of Jesus Running Bear. Once again, because of her own Indian heritage, Deputy Tempe Crabtree helps with the investigation which also leads to the discovery of hidden militia group’s camp deep in the forest. Following the killer’s trail, puts Tempe and Jesus in jeopardy. Besides being a mystery it is also about many forms of prejudice.

BH:  You write  two mystery series – are both series current, and if so, is it ever a challenge to keep the characters straight as you’re writing?

MM: In the Tempe Crabtree series, most of the story is told in close third person though the eyes, thoughts and feeling of Tempe, though in Invisible Path, the first chapter is told through Jesus Running Bear’s point-of view.

In the Rocky Bluff P.D. crimes series, though the story focuses on one or two members of the RBPD, we learn what’s going on through many others.

A new book in the RBPD series comes out in the beginning of the year and a new book in the Tempe series always comes out in the fall.

The settings for both are quite different. Tempe lives and works in the mountains, Rocky Bluff is situated in a beach community in Southern California.

BH: Tempe Crabtree sounds like a fascinating personality. Where did you get the inspiration for her character?

MM: Tempe came from three women I met over a short period of time. The first was a resident deputy working the area where I live. I interviewed her for a personality piece for the newspaper. A female police officer I did a ride-along with was the second. She was a single mom and the only woman on that department. From about 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. she had no calls and she poured her heart out to me. The third was a beautiful Indian woman I spent a couple of hours with who had grown up on the nearby reservation. Together, these women became Tempe Crabtree.

BH: Which of your characters would you say is the most like you?

MM: Since I’m a great-grandmother and never been in law enforcement none are really like me. About the only personality traits of my main female characters I can claim is independence, loyalty and a certain amount of stubbornness.

BH: This might seem like a silly question, but I’m honestly curious: why are your Deputy Tempe books written under the name Marilyn Meredith, and your Rocky Bluff books written as F. M. Meredith?

MM: Of course Marilyn Meredith is my real name. When I first started writing the Rocky Bluff series which is often from a male point-of-view, I thought using my first initials might make male readers read the books more readily. However, the first publisher of the series put my photo on the back of the book and ruined the illusion. Since I began that way, I’ve just kept it up.

BH: Tell us about your path to publication.

MM:  It was a rocky path full of pit holes and blocked by boulders. My first book, an historical family saga, was rejected nearly thirty times before it was accepted. (Believe me, I rewrote it several times between rejections.) From there it was one thing after another. To make a long story shorter, I’ve dealt with a couple of crooked publishers, had two publishers die, one decided not to be in the business any longer, five different agents who were unable to sell my books, and finally I started looking for publishers on my own.

BH: That is a rocky path! Do you have a set writing schedule?

MM: I write in the morning, that’s when my brain works the best. I think about whatever I’m writing off and on during the day. I usually do editing and promoting in the afternoon and evenings.

BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

MM: I’ve had many over the years, but the one that I enjoyed the most was Stephen King’s On Writing.

BH: Any words on advice to aspiring writers for keeping the hope alive?

MM: Don’t ever give up. Go to writing conferences, read books on writing, join a critique group, and most of all write, write, write.

BH: Thank you, Marilyn, for answering our questions and giving us some insights into your writing life!

If you’d like more information on Marilyn Meredith and her books, you can visit her website here, and her blog here. Here’s a link for her latest book, Invisible Path.

The Writer’s 12 Days of Christmas

Instead of a book review, I have to do something festive. Okay, and this post was supposed to be for Christmas Eve, but I never got around to posting it. But really, if I’d posted it on Christmas Eve, I wouldn’t have known that the last one was actually true! And in the original version, it was “purple,” not “lovely.” Since it isn’t purple, I’m glad I had time to change it.

Let’s take this from day twelve to avoid the repetition that is the hallmark of this song.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

Twelve pens of red ink,

Eleven pristine notebooks,

Ten packs of Post-Its,

Nine friends a’reading,

Eight cups a’brewing,

Seven books on writing,

Six story boards,

FIVE PAPER REAMS!

Four babysitters,

Three critique groups,

Two conferences,

And a lovely laptop just for me!

This list is slightly exaggerated, but even then, I am spoiled blessed.

NiFtY Author: Elaine Cantrell

Today’s NiFtY (Not Famous…Yet) Author is Elaine Cantrell, an award-winning romance novelist. Join us as we learn a little about her life and her writing.

BH: Tell us a little about your latest book, Return Engagement.

EC: I’d love to!  Return Engagement is the book I wanted to write for a long time before I actually sat down at the computer to do it.  I thought about my characters so long and so hard that I once called my husband Richard (the hero in Return Engagement) which he didn’t like too much.

The book is centered around the idea ‘what might have been.”  I think most people have looked back in their lives and wondered how things would be different if they had made different choices; I know I have.  Richard and Elizabeth met when he was seventeen and she was twenty two.  They fell in love, but Richard’s father the powerful senator Henry Lovinggood broke them up.  He didn’t think Elizabeth was good enough for Richard whom the senator plans to make the president one day.

Ten years after their breakup Richard and Elizabeth meet by accident on a California beach and find that their feelings for each other haven’t changed.  When they decide to rekindle their relationship, they find that Senator Lovinggood isn’t their only problem.  There are others who wish them deadly harm.

BH:  Ooh. Sounds good! You’ve published six books, am I right? Are they all romances? Which one is your favorite?

EC: Yes, they’re all romances, and my favorite one is always the one I’m working on at the moment.  If I had to pick just one I’d pick Return Engagement, mostly because I love that Richard so much.  I also like the book about Elizabeth Lane’s cousin Nikki.  That book The Best Selling Toy Of The Season is set at Christmas time and is available at http://www.midnightshowcase.com.

That’s an interesting thing too.  My husband couldn’t stand Richard, and I’ve gotten some reviews where the reviewer praised the book and called it a page turner, saying how filled with conflict and clever plot twists it was.  The reviewer then went on to say that she didn’t like the characters.  I guess I don’t understand that.  If she couldn’t put the book down because she had to know what happened next, why didn’t she like my characters?

Romantic Times Magazine liked the book just fine, though.  They gave the book a 4.5 which means it’s a keeper, and they said, “This touching story is beautifully written and explores the emotions involved when two people who love each other are influenced by outside forces and their own doubts.  Each character is fully developed, and the plot is filled with interesting twists.”

BH: You’re the first romance writer I’ve interviewed. What are some of the joys of writing romance? Are there any aspects of the genre that you don’t like?

EC: The joys are the same as for any other genre I think.  Authors get to create worlds of their own choosing, and things always turn out the way you think they should.  The negative part is that sometimes the characters are stereotypical and flat.  Hmm.  That’s probably why that reviewer didn’t like my characters.  I made them into real people who have warts and make mistakes.  They’re anything but stereotypical.

BH: Which of your characters would you say is the most like you?

EC: I give most of my characters the personality traits I’d like to have myself, so none of them are necessarily like me.  The one I’m most like is Betsy McLaughlin my heroine in A New Leaf.  A New Leaf was the winner of the 2003 Timeless Love contest which thrilled my heart more than you can imagine.  Betsy’s an ordinary girl who makes some life-changing mistakes, but instead of whining about things she does the best she can with the hand she’s been dealt.  I’d like to think that describes me too.

BH: What other literary projects do you have in the works? Can you tell us about a work-in-progress?

EC: My work-in-progress is a sci fi/ fantasy novel which is untitled at the moment.  I’ve had to lay it aside for the moment because I’d doing edits for a new book that’s coming out in June of 2011.  The book is tentatively titled Jilted!, and it’ll be published by Lachesis Publishing.

BH: Tell us a little about your path to publication.

EC:  It all started when my son wrote a book.  I was so overwhelmed with pride!  I’d always wanted to write a book, but I didn’t think I could.  I decided to give it a try when he told me that he had always made up stories in his head to amuse himself, and he thought he might as well write them down.  Glory be!  I had always done that too.  I wrote that book in record time, but nobody liked it.  My husband didn’t want the hero to be crippled, and my friend said that my heroine who was a good girl wasn’t as interesting as a bad girl would be.

So, I started another book, A New Leaf.  At the last minute I submitted the book to a small publisher who sponsored the Timeless Love contest.  The prize was publication of your book.  To my great and utter surprise, I won the contest, and A New Leaf was published the following year.

BH: Sounds like a dream come true! What does your workspace look like?

EC: Right now I’m sitting in my living room and writing on my laptop because the computer in my study crashed and died.  My husband bought me a new computer for Christmas so we’re going to redo the study and put in a glass table that stretches from one end of the room to the other.  Then my husband and I will both put our computers on the desk and sit side by side.  We’ll cover the wall behind us in bookshelves and leave space for a TV.

BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

EC: I’m ashamed to say that I don’t have one.  I could use the help as much as anyone, but there aren’t enough hours in the day as it is.  If I do read one, Stephen King has something out which my son says is very good.

BH: Any words on advice to aspiring writers for keeping the hope alive?

EC: Don’t give up.  I think the major difference between published and unpublished authors is that the published authors didn’t give up.

BH: Thank you, Elaine, for answering my questions and sharing your thoughts and your books with us!

Want more of Elaine Cantrell? Visit her website here, and her blog here. Also, here’s her Facebook page, and a link to buy Return Engagement.

NiFtY Author: Geraldine Evans

Geraldine Evans is the author of seventeen books, thirteen of which belong to her popular Rafferty & Llewellyn mystery series. Below she shares her books and her thoughts on writing.

BH: Dead Before Morning is your first book in your Rafferty & Llewellyn series. Could you tell us a little about it?

GE: It was published in hb the US in 1994 by St Martin’s Press. It’s almost ready for publishing as an ebook on kindle, iPad, iPhone, nook, kibo, android, etc. It introduces DI Joseph Aloysius Rafferty, some of his rumbustious family and DS Dafyd Llewellyn, his straightlaced sidekick. In this book, a naked girl is found murdered in a private psychiatric hospital, her face horribly mutilated. Rafferty has to solve the crime as well as get one of his many cousins out of jail. And it is only when he does his good deed for the day with regard to the latter, that the fates help him solve the murder.

BH: How about your most recent installment in the series, Death Dance?

GE: Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty is getting married; the last thing he needs is another murder that puts his plans in jeopardy. Adrienne Staveley was strangled, and is soon revealed as a woman with several lovers, a stepson who hated her and a husband who tramped the streets rather than spend time in her company. Altogether, there are a number of suspects who could have reason to kill her. Another possible disruption to Rafferty’s plans and his heart occur when some of the fingerprints in the Staveleys’ home are revealed to be those of his fiancee, Abra. She’d never mentioned knowing the dead woman, moreover, her prints had been found in John Staveley’s bedroom. Was Abra cheating on him even before they married? Or was she a possible murderer? His mind in turmoil, he wasn’t sure which option he preferred. But, somehow, he must put his problems aside and find the murderer.

BH: Which character do you feel is most like you? Did the similarities make it easier or more difficult to write the character?

GE: Definitely Joe Rafferty. He is me – the me I would be if I were a man and a cop. The similarities made it a lot easier to write about him. He’s a bit more of a rule-breaker than I am, but our sense of humour is the same. There’s something of my mother in Ma Rafferty, as well as a bit pinched from the various ladies I used to know when we went to Dublin for the summer holidays when I was a kid. But having said that, there’s a little of me in Llewellyn as well, as I’m quite a studious type.

BH: Which book in the series would you encourage new fans to begin with? Should they start with the first book, or can they pick up somewhere in the middle?

GE: It’s not necessary to start at book one as each book can be read as a standalone. But I suppose all authors prefer readers to start from the beginning and learn about the characters gradually. But if they would like to start with my favourite book, I still think I like Dying For You best as it’s the one where I get my poor old Rafferty deep inthe mire. It’s number six in the series and came out in, I think, 2005 in the US.

BH: Is it hard to write from a male perspective? Do you have any tips for authors who wish to write from the perspective of the opposite sex?

GE: I don’t find it hard, but then I’m not a very girly woman; I  was never very fond of pink, for instance, even when I was a little girl. Tips. Hmm. I would say try not to make them too tough. All men have their feminine side, even the most macho types. I’m not saying have them spend hours prinking and preening, but make them rounded, rather than a stereotype. Think about the men in your own life – they will all have their weaknesses and emotional times; maybe use them to help you build your characters.

BH: Tell us a little about your path to publication.

GE: It was a long one! I started writing in my early twenties, but I never finished anything. It was only when I hit the milestone age of thirty that I really got down to it. I wrote a novel a year for six years, only the last of which was published. That was Land of Dreams, a romance set in the Canadian Arctic (don’t ask!). When my next romance was also rejected, I turned to crime and – apart from one historical novel Reluctant Queen, about Henry VIII’s little sister, which was written under the name Geraldine Hartnett – I have written crime novels ever since. All during the years I was rejected, I had also written articles on subjects like historical biography, writing and New Age and these were published, not just in the UK, but in foreign magazines also.

BH: What is your writing schedule like?

GE:  I’m not an early riser. I generally start writing around 10.00 a m and carry on till around 6.30 or 7.00 p m. I’ll often continue to write later in the evening as well, though nowadays, I tend to give myself the weekends off (if I don’t, my husband moans! Quite rightly, really. He married me because he likes my company, after all).

Of course, as with other writers, I have other calls on my time. I’ve just finished proofreading my latest Rafferty novel, Deadly Reunion, which is out in the UK at the end of February 2011 (out in the US a few months later). Next, I have to do the final proofread of the ebook version of Dead Before Morning, after which I’ll have to get myself in gear to get the next out of print Rafferty novel, Death Line, ready for epubbing. I give talks and interviews. I do all my own marketing and produce flyers, bookmarks, news releases and postcards.. I also interview other writers for my blog, which I started recently. I use facebook, I tweet and belong to various Author websites, where I post and which I regularly update. So altogether, I keep quite busy.

BH: What does your workspace look like?

GE: I do most of my work downstairs in the living room by the fire (nearer the kettle for tea!). It’s quite a small room and is not very tidy (no Domestic Goddess, me!). I used to work all the time in my study upstairs, a small boxroom as we call them in the UK, but since Mark, my stepson, gave me one of his spare laptops, it’s been wonderful to have the freedom to work anywhere. I’ll get my husband to take a picture. The living room’s a bit of a shambles at the moment because I was busy yesterday evening wrapping Christmas presents for my family (nearly done. Only four more to get, though we also have four December birthdays and three in January L). Wish my lot went in for a bit of family planning!

BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

GE: I like the one by Lawrence Block. I can’t find it at the moment and I can’t quite remember the title (From Plot to Print?), but I’ve read that from cover to cover many times. I love his humour. Some writers who try to teach about writing get a bit too precious, but I’d definitely recommend his book.

BH: Any words on advice to aspiring writers for keeping the hope alive?

GE: I know it’s difficult. I’ve been rejected many times. Have a cry, then dry your eyes, grit your teeth and say: ‘I’ll show ‘em’! Try something different and shorter, like an article, something you don’t need to put your heart and soul into Anyone can research facts for a non-fiction piece and put them in order with a bit of flair. Don’t forget to do your research on your intended market, too, regarding what their requirements are (word length, subject matters covered, etc). As I mention on the Advice Page on my website (www.geraldineevans.com), this will, hopefully, give you something, maybe several somethings, to put on your writer’s CV, which should lead editors to at least consider you a professional. Getting non-fiction published is a lot easier than trying to place a novel. But with regard to your novel, please don’t follow the herd with the latest hot ticket. All would-be writers do that. Do your own thing and write what matters to you: that way, you’ll stand out from the crowd.

BH: Thank you, Geraldine, for the interview and for your thoughts on writing and publishing! For more of Geraldine, you can visit her in various places on the internet:

Website: http://www.geraldineevans.com Here you can visit Geraldine’s blog, find links to her books on Amazon, and read all sorts of writerly advice.

Blog: http://wwwgeraldineevanscom.blogspot.com (If this link doesn’t work, try going from Geraldine’s website.)

Twitter: Geraldine_Evans

Facebook Fan Page:
http://www.facebook.com/search.php?q=www.blogger.com&type=users#!/pages/Geraldine-Evans-Crime-Author/134541119922978

Crimespace: http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/GeraldineEvans

NiFtY Author: Katie Pickard Fawcett

A few months ago I reviewed Katie Pickard Fawcett’s book To Come and Go Like Magic (click here for the review), and I was delighted when she agreed to an interview on my blog. So without further blather on my part…here’s a truly inspiring interview!

BH: I could be wrong, but To Come and Go Like Magic seems like one of those books that the author just had to write…like you couldn’t not write it. What inspired the story?

KF: My own childhood growing up in Appalachia was the inspiration for the setting, characters, and experiences.  Some years back I read The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and loved the way she told the story in vignettes.  I was excited to write a book about Appalachia in this style with glimpses into the lives of many different characters.

BH: Chili, the main character, longs to see the world. Then she befriends her teacher Miss Matlock, who has traveled extensively. Did you ever have a Miss Matlock in your life?

KF: No.  I didn’t have a teacher who had traveled the world and came back with stories to tell.  I did, however, have several wonderful teachers who read great books to us, encouraged me to write stories, and offered interesting classroom activities.  The trip to Mexico chapter in To Come and Go Like Magic was very similar to a geography activity we did in fifth grade.  Miss Matlock’s travels, her interest in the Monarch butterflies, in hiking in the Andes, and in the rainforests of Central America come from my own experiences.

BH: Another fantastic element of To Come and Go Like Magic is the setting. How much of the story’s setting is based on your imagination, and how much is based on your actual experiences in Appalachia?

KF:  I grew up in Eastern Kentucky so the setting is based entirely on the actual area and the environment, activities, problems, and concerns of the 1970s.  The characters, story, and most of the place names are fictitious.  I kept the name (Cumberland) of the real river.

BH: Your book is told in vignettes, and in some places these vignettes have such flowing language I think of them as prose poems. Was this your intent from the beginning, or did the format emerge as you told the story?

KF:  I love poetry and I enjoy writing “snapshot” pieces, so my writing tends toward the poetic.

BH: Can you tell us about your experience publishing To Come and Go Like Magic?

KF: I sent To Come and Go Like Magic to Random House and got a call and a contract within the month.  Sound too good to be true?  The complete story is a bit longer.  I worked for ten years in the publishing department of an international organization writing pieces for the house journal, summaries of development projects, and publicity pieces, and didn’t have much time to write fiction.  I was also a social worker in Kentucky, worked for a consulting firm in Washington, DC, and spent three years at various jobs at a university.  I majored in psychology, sociology, and education in college.  I also tutor and teach writing workshops and SAT prep on occasion.  I wrote a young adult book several years ago and sent it to Dutton.  They had me do two rewrites and then rejected it.  Ditto for Scholastic.  Then off to Random House.  After the second rewrite, my editor said she was willing to read it one more time.  I figured it wouldn’t fly.  So I asked if I could send her another manuscript I had lying around and she agreed.  That was To Come and Go Like Magic.  I spent about 6 years researching, writing, and revising the first book that got rejected by three big publishers over a period of 3 or 4 years.  I spent about 6 weeks writing To Come and Go. Just goes to show that “write what you know” makes sense.  Research was limited primarily to fact checking the dates for songs and foods and movies mentioned in the book.

BH: That is amazing, and heartening at the same time. I’m not surprised, though – I really get that “inspired” feeling from To Come and Go.

What does your workspace look like?

KF: My preference by far is to work outside and I love my laptop.  I enjoy the flowers and birds and furry critters that visit.  When it’s raining or too cold to be outside I work in my study.  I have a window that looks down to the front garden and three bird feeders – two for the squirrels and one that’s squirrel-proof.  A family of blue jays comes by almost every morning for peanuts.  They often respond to my whistle if they’re in the vicinity.  My study is filled with books and doo dads.  I have a hummingbird mobile above my desk, starfish on the window sill, green plants, and a CD player because I like music in the background while I’m working.

BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

KF: I have three books that I enjoy opening and reading a chapter or two when the mood strikes.  Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose is entertaining and filled with great humor and wisdom and excerpts from some of the best writers past and present.  On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser has been around since the late 1970s and is still an excellent guide.  Many of these fundamental principles can be applied to fiction as well as nonfiction.   If I had to choose a favorite, however, it would be a little book published in 1996 titled Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life With Words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge.  This is a marvelous little book filled with many inspiring exercises for getting the creative juices stirring.

BH: Any words on advice to aspiring writers for keeping the hope alive?

KF: I have been writing stories for almost as long as I can remember.  I passed stories around in elementary school and in high school study hall.  It seems that I have always needed to write and, although it can be physically tiring and mentally exhausting at times and rejection is always disappointing, it has never truly felt like work.  Publication is a big plus, but has never been a necessity for me.  The old saying that “it’s only work if you’d rather be doing something else” applies.  I love to write and it’s the passion, I believe, that keeps the hope alive.

BH: Thank you, Katie, for the great interview. I learned from this, and I appreciate your responses, insights, and inspiration.

Studio Audience! For more of Katie Fawcett, and where to order her book, check out the links below.

Links:

http://katiepickardfawcett.wordpress.com/ (On my blog I write about Kentucky, DC, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Caribbean, books, food, flowers, squirrels, and anything else that strikes me.)

Order from Amazon –

http://www.amazon.com/Come-Go-Like-Magic/dp/0375858466/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1287454169&sr=1-1

Order from Random House — http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/catalog/results.pperl?keyword=to+come+and+go+like+magic&submit.x=17&submit.y=10&submit=submit

To Come and Go Like Magic was a Parents’ Choice Award Winner in the fiction category for Spring 2010   http://www.parents-choice.org/award.cfm?thePage=books&p_code=p_boo&c_code=c_fic&orderby=award

Also nominated on October 9 for the Amelia Bloomer Project Award – an annual booklist of the best feminist books for young readers chosen by the Social Responsibilities Roundtable of the American Library Association  http://ameliabloomer.wordpress.com/