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New Year Wishes

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Words have amazing power, no matter if they are in books, advertisements or magazines.

I started reading fashion magazines when I was twelve. I had barely begun to develop into an adult and was thrilled with the promises and guidance the magazines offered – especially every January.

Most of the magazines claim first, there was something wrong with you.  Second, if you just follow the advice in the magazine you and your life would be so much better!

And I bought into each and every promise – for years. I thought if I could only have bouncy hair, lose weight in the right places and have the correct outfits my life would be perfect and just like the scenes the models played out in the magazines.

January followed January and my magazines changed from Seventeen and Young Miss to Glamour and Cosmo. And although the models’ ages and price of the clothing changed, the articles stayed the same. They still promised happiness, a fulfilling life and only good hair days if I would follow their minute, contradictory and often down right incorrect advice.

I wish I could say that as soon as I got out of school and began working at my first proper job, I stopped reading all the magazines’ silly advice and was happy with the person that I was. I wish.

Instead it took me until I started writing marketing articles for an import company. It was then that I discovered that the more ads my boss would purchase from a certain magazine, the more mentions of the import company’s product would be in said magazine. I had never made this connection before then. It was also at this time that I discovered magazines set their themes for each month a year in advance – and how many times they would simply retitle and edit many articles so they could run them again the next year. It was then I realized how gullible I was to have bought all those fashion magazines for so many years (decades!).

It is January and resolutions are still swirling in the air. Maybe you have kept yours up until now, maybe you have already given up. No matter the case, I hope that you walk by every magazine stand with your head held high. Because you are enough. You have always been enough. Don’t let any empty promises ever convince you otherwise.

Overcoming Fear or What Running a Marathon and Writing a Novel Have in Common

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On October 12th I was one of 45,000 participants who ran the Chicago Marathon. It was a beautiful fall day with almost enough sunshine to make you consider moving out of the heat of H-town to cooler areas of the country. The 26.2 mile course was flanked with bystanders, cover bands and an Elvis impersonator.

Even with all the entertainment, the beautiful weather and the wonder that is Chicago, I had time to think. Running for over five hours will give you plenty of time to mull over just about everything good and bad going on in your life. During this time, after I decided to learn how to play chess and before I felt like my legs would fall off, the strong parallels between running and writing sprang to mind. Specially, the similarities between writing a novel and running a marathon.

1. You must be delusional.

If you seriously thought about how much pain and how much work writing a book or running a marathon would be, there is no way anyone would attempt either endeavor. So in order open a new document or lace up your running shoes, you must convince yourself that the job in front of you won’t eat your lunch. After all, running a marathon is just like running a mile – 26.2 times. Writing a book is a simliar exercise. You write one sentence, a few gillion times.

2. You must be stuborn.

You will be writing or running when other people are either sleeping, watching television or otherwise enjoying themselves. Often you will also want to be sleeping or watching television. I’ve learned to allow only a 2-3 minute pity party before powering up the MacBook or pulling on my running shoes.

3. You must have stamina.

You have to accept that these projects – writing and running – do not come easily. Now it is true that sometime when I run I feel like I have Hermes’s winged sandals laced to my feet instead of my size 9 Wide Width New Balances. Unfortunately this feeling usually lasts only a minute or until the song on Pandora finishes. Same with writing, sometimes it comes easily – but let’s not kid ourselves. It usually doesn’t. Instead, you must condiition yourself to work through the pain.

4. You must rest your body.

Many times in my new mother sleep deprived state I would doze off at the keyboard. This does not make for the best of writing. One’s muse does not enjoy listening to you snore. In the same way, if you are staying up too late or waking up too early, you won’t be able to put in the same atheltic performance your body could perform if only given enough sleep.

5. You must fuel your body.

Same goes for the calories you injest. Even though I believe whole-heartedly that chocolate can solve most of the world’s problems, too much sugar or caffeine can sicken your body and your spirit. Eat good foods and your body will perform creativiely as well as physically.

6. You must do it for yourself.

Both writing and running for most people are efforts that go largely un-noticed by the general population. Only one person won the Chicago Marathon out of the 45,000 that ran this year. And (spoiler alert) it wasn’t me. Same goes for the Newbery or Printz or even the awesome simple prize of publication. It just doesn’t happen often enough to feed the soul. Your running and your writing must do that alone.

7. You will be scared but you will do it anyway.

Creating art and performing athletically both have the ability to produce a heaping pile of fear. This can hit you in insidious ways. My fear of creating often manifests through procrastination and not “feeling” like writing or running. When I am on deadline it is amazing the number of things I have to do before I sit down at the computer to write. The same goes for training for a race. Many a day will dawn when you don’t “feel” like running. The awesome thing about feelings concerning art or exercise is that you don’t necessarily have to have them to run a few miles or write the next chapter. All you have to do is, well do it.

Elizabeth Gilbert, my hero and favorite TED talker, once said that in order to be creative “one must believe in impossible things”. Which was why I decided to attempt the marathon. I truely didn’t believe that I could do it. This doubt was and still is exactly like the creative doubt I experience on a daily basis. Now with the marathon completed, I’m able to remember the fear of not being able to finish the race.(my hands were shaking so bad at the start of the race I spilled my sports drink down the front of my shirt). And when I remember that fear, the self-doubt that pops up everytime I sit down at the computer is much easier to ignore. After all, I ran a marathon. Writing a novel should be a piece of cake.

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Interview with the Creative Triad of Sandra Guy, McCourt Thomas and Caroline Leech

The weather is finally turning cooler, which means that my brain just might begin to work again. In the summer I feel that all my intellectual ability is baked out of me by the summer sun. Now that it is officially autumn, or at least less than 100 degrees, I’m happy to share with you some of the writing techniques and tips from three of my favorite author friends: Caroline Leech, McCourt Thomas and Sandra Guy. Recently, this trio of talent participated in an around the world blog hop. For those unfamiliar with the term, a blog hop is simply when a topic, theme or set of questions is responded to on various blogs across the internet.

Please check out information about their creative practices and feel free to send me your own ideas about creativity at melissaburon@sbcglobal.net.

Why do I write what I do?

Caroline Leech

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For the buzz! I get the biggest thrill when I am writing, when words are flying round my brain in random patterns before crashing onto the page in some semblance of order. It’s the thrill that comes from finding just the right word, or creating just the perfect phrase to capture the image in your head so that others can share it. It comes from hearing a character’s voice so clearly in your head that all you have to do is take down what they say as dictation and put quote marks around it. It comes from planning in detail a scene where two people are standing talking to each other in a farmyard, only to find that when you start writing it that a delivery boy suddenly appears up the road on his bike. He’s uninvited and unexpected, but he takes the whole story down a wonderful path which you would never have found without his help.

McCourt Thomas

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I like to challenge myself with different formats. Sometimes I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing – because it’s definitely challenging! So a project often comes to mind because I enjoy books with a certain style of writing, and wonder if I can pull it off. For example, my current middle grade novel has five first person points of view. I decided to write it that way because I personally like books with several points of view. Have I succeeded with it? I’m not sure. I’ll let you know when I finish! It’s entirely possibly that I’ll end up rewriting the whole thing in third person or from just one character’s point of view, but I wanted to give it a try. Another love of mine is epistolary novels (novels written as letters, or these days, even e-mails back and forth). So I’m thinking my next project will be in an epistolary format – I just have to figure out what the story will be!

Sandra Guy

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I could quote the Mary Oliver poem “The Summer Day” in response to this question. Why do I write what I do? Because I don’t have the answers and it’s only in writing what I see and feel that I know it is sometimes enough that I remember to ask the questions. I do know how to pay attention though, and I can still fall into long grass on my knees, feeling idle and blessed.

There is something about the speed of our lives today that is squeezing the magic of true connection out of the world. Maybe, if we make time to read and conjure up the images created by the words of gifted writers or if we find time to contemplate the complicated eyes of a dragonfly, we can bring it back again. Catching and sharing a little of that magic is why I tell the stories I tell.

When Mary Oliver asks at the end of that same poem –

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?”

I proudly reply – I write stories to help us remember.

(To hear the wonderful Mary Oliver reading “The Summer Day” please checkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16CL6bKVbJQ)

How does your writing process work?

Caroline Leech

I’d like to tell you how organized and disciplined I am about sitting down in a peaceful office at a tidy desk where I can write to a set daily word count. But in reality, most of my writing is done in the buzz of Barnes and Noble café in whatever hours each week I can grab. I often go to our local Starbucks at 6am on a Sunday morning, so I can get a good three or four hours’ work done before my household gets going for the day. Although Starbucks is always deserted when I arrive at that time of the morning, I have often found that I get so focused on what I am writing, I can look up suddenly and discover that the place is packed and its 9am.

How do I write? I am most certainly a planner and not a pantser (a writer who likes to fly by the seat of his or her pants, with no plot plan as a guide). With both my novels, I have not started writing until I have created a full chapter breakdown of the story and rough character sketches of the main players. I might not know how my character navigates his way through a scene, but I must know where he needs to get to by the end.

Even with this kind of detailed planning, however, sometimes I have reached a fork in my plot road and haven’t known exactly which way to go. Just recently I wrote a conversation which was interrupted by a knock at the door. I discovered that I didn’t know who was knocking (I know that might sound weird, given that I was in charge of the knocking!) It could have been one of two people but I wasn’t sure which it should be and I felt rather panicked. I could see a rough path which would take me from each person through to the next chapter where I needed to be, but I just couldn’t take that first step on one path by typing the name of one person standing on the doorstep. It took me two days of fiddling around with another part of the manuscript, letting my mind wrestle with my door-knocker dilemma, before I could go back and type that name.

McCourt Thomas

I usually write at home, but I’m also a big fan of writing at the library. It helps me sometimes to get out, so I don’t feel guilty about the never-ending list of things that need to be done around the house. When I first started writing and the kids didn’t have as many evening activities, I used to go to the library every Monday night to write while my husband took care of the kids. That’s where I really started on my writing journey and wrote my very first picture book manuscripts. I loved that uninterrupted writing time, and was so grateful that my whole family supported my writing efforts. I’d love to add that evening writing time once a week back to my schedule – but we’ll have to see how this school year’s activities and my graduate school classes pan out. I think I’ll probably still be typing away in my car for years to come!

Sandra Guy

I’m easily caught by ideas. Almost anything can get me going – the juxtaposition of old and new, dark and light, male and female. Once I’ve felt the shiver of a story or character close by, I let it take up residency in me. I create a world around it and explore facets of the one it has come from, burying myself in books on the same subject or visuals of the time period or place where the story is happening. I don’t start writing until I can see the world my protagonist lives in and hear his or her voice in my head. And I usually only begin when I can say the opening paragraph of that unwritten story out loud.

Once I start I’m hooked. I write three or four hours a day, starting at the beginning of the story and working all the way through to the end of my first draft. I write at least a chapter a day sometimes more, always leaving the writing on a cliff hanger so I can slip back into the story easily the next day.

After I’ve written myself out (I’m generally less productive after three hours of new writing), I work on the more technical side of a piece – the mechanics of plot and pacing, the writing of different lengths of synopses, the balancing out of conflict and story sags. I write monologues that won’t appear in the book. I draw charts connecting characters and flow diagrams connecting time and space and keep them in clear coloured files. When I finish writing for the day, my white glass desk is immaculate but the room I’m writing in is awash with images – mood boards for characters and places that appear in the story, odd details in photos torn from glossy magazines – anything that allows me to bathe in the essence of the story I’m working on without actually writing more of it.

Once I have a first draft I tend to leave it for a month to let it settle. Then I go back, hopefully with fresher eyes, and read it with a view to revising. And my revision process, well now, that’s a whole other story. . .

You can learn even more about each of these creatives on their websites. Sandra  is at http://www.sandraguy.com. McCourt can be found at http://mccourtthomas.blogspot.com. And the lovely Caroline is at http://www.carolineleech.com.

Wishing everyone happy creating and a very happy fall!

Writing Process Blog Hop!

Merci and gracias to both Caroline Leech and Sandra Guy for inviting me to participate on this wonderful blog hop about the writing process!

What am I working on?

Sometimes I think a better question is what am I not working on. In addition to family life, I have a day job as a librarian in a local elementary school. Mix that up with my indie publishing company MAB Media and my own writing, things are rather busy.

On the strictly writing part, I am in the middle of three different projects that I have promised myself will some day be finished! One is a middle grade ghost story, the other an urban fantasy (which I am writing with the awesome Sandra Guy) and finally an adult fantasy novel.

Why do I write?

I write because I don’t have a choice. Really, I would probably do anything buy write if I could. It is so difficult 99% of the time. I have actually tried on multiple occasions to quit writing. The last time I did this I even went and told all of my writing friends that my writing career was over. Then I started a publishing company a few weeks later. Go figure.

How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

I write almost always in the genres of fantasy or even magical realism. Where my writing differs is in the fact that even though the situations surroounding my characters are fraught with danger and power, I still find a way to make my characters as real as possible, complete with bad attitudes, zits and flaws.

How does my writing process work?

Again, it is easier to say what doesn’t work. In Leonard Marcus’ amazing tome, Dear Genius, the editor extrodinarire Ursula Nordstrom begs one of her authors to never have a family. Ms. Nordstrom knew that the boundaries of family and home were often too constraining for a writer. As I type this I have just slammed my office door in defense of the noises coming out of the kitchen (part of which I should say in the fire alarm because I burnt most of the dinner). That being said, I find it very difficult to write in an empty house. For a few years I worked as a free-lance marketing and ad copy professional. I never seemed to make it out of my yoga pants – or even do yoga for that matter. I’m much happier and productive grabbing five minutes here, eight minutes there towards my projects and goals.  Which is good since that works rather well with my family’s schedule.

Two wonderful writers who will continue this blog hop are McCourt Thomas and JoAn Watson.

McCourt Thomas has to be one of the funniest people I have ever met. Everytime I chat with her she leaves me in stiches. She’s a wife, mother, volunteer, writer, reader, and currently a graduate student in library science at Texas Woman’s University. (Go Librarians!) She has a degree in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and before staying home with her four (!) kids, she was a television news producer. Her favorite TV show to watch while folding laundry is House Hunters International, which has led to a not-so-secret desire to live overseas. She’s currently enjoying the “Hero’s Guide” series by Christopher Healey on audiobook, and reading about 10 other books at the same time.

Check out her blog at http://mccourtthomas.blogspot.com.

I had the pleasure of meeting JoAn via the SCBWI-Houston chapter. Now we are co-workers as we both write for the same independent newspaper. After teaching in Baytown schools for 22 years, she retired, but continued as a reading/writing consultant for Houston area schools. Her most recent novel is Pine Cones and Magnolia Blossoms (2013) available in print and an E Book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can learn more about JoAn and her writing process on her blog at http://josbookblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Writing!

Interview with Barbara Younger

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Most people consider me a relatively positive person, but I pale in comparison to the author and blogger Barbara Younger. A successful author of over twenty books, Barbara somehow finds time to blog about her experience with menopause and endometrial cancer. Her creative gifts are apparent as she deftly discusses these topics with humor and grace. Recently, I caught up with Barbara to chat with her about her blogs, her books and her adorable grandson, Mazen.

How did you decide to become a writer?

When I was in third grade, our teacher gave us a writing prompt, something about a silver loving cup discovered in a horse barn. A shy child, I wasn’t happy when she made us read our stories out loud. After I read mine, she said, “Barbara, your story is really good.” In that moment, I understood that I might have a way with words. 

In fifth grade, I won First Prize in an Archie comic book writing contest, and in sixth grade, I won two school writing contests. Those early successes showed me how it feels to have others appreciate my writing and probably gave me the courage I’ve needed to endure hundreds of rejection letters.

Where did you grow up and how did where you grew up shape your writing?

I grew up in Towson, a Baltimore suburb. Our schools were good, and they stressed reading and writing. Our libraries were good, too! My home was a creative one, filled with books, music, art, dogs and cats, and lively conversation.

How has being a mother and grandmother changed you as a writer?

As a mom to two girls, I learned the struggles kids go through and what’s important to them. As the grandmother of a little boy, I’ve discovered that toy trucks have personalities. They can even eat oatmeal and take a sip of milk. Who knew! I hope to write a truck picture book in the next few months.

What is a normal “writing” workday like for you?

I do my best fresh writing in the morning when I’m the most energetic. I’d like to figure out how to work harder and longer and not be so influenced by energy and mood. A challenge! I’m happy editing any time. Chopping and rearranging words  are favorite activities.

Describe some of the books and authors who have influenced you as a writer.

As a kid, I was nuts over Beverly Clearly, and as a young children’s librarian, I loved Judy Blume’s Fudge books. In recent years I’ve admired the whimsy of Polly Horvath; the depth of Kevin Henke’s novels; and my friend Lisa Doan’s The Berenson Schemes, where funny things happen fast.

Blogging has sparked an interest in creative nonfiction and humor writing. I’m studying two masters, Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron, for their ability to capture what’s amusing, confounding, and significant about the stuff of every day.

What are you working on now?

I put lots of time into my blog, Friend for the Ride: Encouraging Words for the Menopause and Midlife Roller Coaster, selected by Healthline as one of the top menopause blogs of 2014. I’ve recently recovered from endometrial cancer and am having a wonderful time blogging my experience. (Yes, wonderful. Cancer has some hidden rewards.) 

I’ve got a novel in progress, Eva Heaven and the Summer Pie Blog. I’ve had trouble letting the main character sing, so I’m soon to start another round. My insightful agent, Erzsi Deak, suggests Eva is too full of herself. Hoping to fix that!

I’m pleased to have fourteen selections in Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling, coming this fall from Viva Editions.

I’m the author of 21 books. You can read more about them on my writer’s website, BarbaraKyounger.com

Do you have any upcoming appearances or events?

No appearances at the moment but I’m always looking for guests posts for Friend for the Ride. It’s okay if you’re young! We’ll find a topic that suits you. If you’ve got a book you’d like me to promote, I’ll buy a copy and offer it as a giveaway to go along with your post. Email me at BKYounger at gmail.com. Thanks!

You can read more about Barbara at her blog https://friendfortheride.wordpress.com and purchase her books at your local bookstore or online book seller. 

 

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Interview with Julie Hedlund

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In the heat of summer, it’s easy to get discouraged with your artistic endeavors when all you want to do is swing on a hammock and eat popsicles. For a shot of instant energy and inspiration, I invited the talented and energetic Julie Hedlund to chat about her writing process and creative journey. Julie Hedlund is a celebrated children’s author, as well as a freelance journalist, inspirational speaker, international workshop coordinator. She also publishes a blog full of advice for the novice to the expert writer.

Describe your creative journey to becoming an author.

Whew! That’s a tough one. It was very circuitous.

My journey started by being a READER. I don’t think I’ve gone one day without a book since I was six years old. Besides friends, family, and pets, there wasn’t (and isn’t) anything in the world I loved more than books. As I child, the love of reading grew into the love of making up my own stories. My favorite game was “pretend,” and I suppose it still is.

But being an author was never something I really thought I could do. I’m not sure why, but I just decided somewhere along the way that I needed a “practical” career with more security. I graduated from The University of Michigan with a Political Science degree and then went to graduate school in England to get an MA in International Political Economy. I spent 13 years after that working in electronic banking and payments.

If I ever DID think about writing a book, it was always novels, since that is what I love to read the most. But after I had children of my own. I rediscovered the child reader in me by reading to them. I began writing children’s picture books and fell in love with the genre. I joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), worked very hard to learn the craft and business of writing for children, and never looked back. A few years ago I left my job to pursue my writing career full time.

Please tell us about your 12 x 12 project.

12 x 12 is a picture book writing challenge where participants aim to write one picture book draft a month for each month of the year (12 drafts in 12 months). The idea is to keep the creative juices and motivation flowing to increase the output of work.

The challenge is now in its third year and we have 750 participants. There are many features and benefits beyond the community, and all of that information is available on my website at http://www.juliehedlund.com/12-x-12.

What is a normal “writing” workday like for you?

There is no such thing as a normal writing workday.

Seriously. I know some writers are religious about writing a certain number of words or pages or hours at specific times each day, but I am most definitely not one of them.

Part of the reason is there are other aspects of my job, like running 12 x 12, that take up my time, but mostly its because my personality doesn’t lend itself to strict routine. I’ve learned to jump on creative bursts and allow myself breaks when I need them. I am ALWAYS writing in my head and more often than not I find that by the time I sit back down to actually put words on the page, I’ve already sorted out a lot of the issues in my mind.

However, I will say that having accountability is critical for me. In addition to my own attempt to write and revise at least one draft each month, I set other deadlines for myself – to get a final draft to my agent, to have a manuscript ready for a workshop, etc. I have one-year, five-year, and ten-year goals for the number of books I’d like to publish. Having those kind of goals keeps me from staying away from the writing too long.

You’ve written for all types of audiences. How does your writing process differ as your audience changes?

I mainly write picture books for children and nonfiction in the form of blog posts and newsletters for adult fellow writers. The process is VERY different. For me, writing blog posts, newsletters, and presentations comes quickly and easily as a result of my business writing experience.

Writing picture books requires a great deal more patience and care and LOTS of editing and revising.

Who are your favorite writers and why?

For adult fiction, I gravitate toward literary authors such as Barbara Kingsolver, Gregory Maguire, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, John Irving, Hilary Mantle, etc.

For children’s books, there are simply too many to name so I always limit myself to my all-time favorite, which is Jane Yolen. She has written more than 300 books for children of all ages across many themes, both fiction and nonfiction, and they are all excellent.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

There is only one for a writer to become an author (aka published). Within the genre or genres you want to write, you need to: Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Revise, revise, revise. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Beyond that, it’s critical to find a community whether it is an association of writers or a writing group or, preferably, both. You need to study the market for publication standards in your genre. You need to give your work time to percolate and grow and get better.

Most of all, you need to be persistent. Most people give up once they face hardship and rejection. Both are a fact of the writing life. The key is to believe in yourself and your work and to keep writing. If you do that, eventually success will come.

What are you working on now?

I am finalizing several of my existing picture book manuscripts to get them (hopefully) ready for submission to editors. I recently started work on a picture book biography, and I have ideas for both a middle grade historical fiction and a young adult nonfiction book that I’m eager to get cracking on. I used to say I’ll never have time to read all of the books I want to read. Now I have to add I’ll never have time to WRITE all the books I want to write.

My next book, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN, releases on September 9th. Please checkout the website: http://myloveforyouisthesun and book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJ_K23UE-gg

To learn more about Julie Hedlund and purchase her books, please visit her website at http://www.juliehedlund.com

 

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Interview with Constance Van Hoven

ConstanceIt’s the middle of the summer, the kids are out of school and most people’s brains have all but melted in the Texas heat and humidity. Luckily for me, I was able to chat this week with the delightful and bright Constance Van Hoven, which gave my brain enough of an artic blast of smart to get me through the rest of the summer. As an author for all ages, Constance has a special spot in her heart for her home state of Minnesota. One of her picture books, The Twelve Days of Christmas in Minnesota, is especially delightful to read during one of our long Texan summer afternoons.

 

Where did you grow-up and where do you live now?

 

I grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, but spent many wonderful summers on my grandmother’s farm near Red Cloud, Nebraska. Today, I split my time between St. Paul and Bozeman, Montana where our two daughters and their families live.

 

Describe your creative journey.

 

My creative journey as a writer began with my mother who was a kindergarten teacher and loved children’s books. Books were our birthday and Christmas gifts. In college I majored in English, took lots of creative writing classes. After college I worked as a buyer for a chain of specialty toy and book stores in the Twin Cities. Over the years, I found I loved working with children’s book authors who visited our stores and longed to be one of them. I took writing classes locally and then went to Vermont College and finished their MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. It was a life changing experience for me. In 2009 I wrote THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN MINNESOTA (Sterling) and in 2011 HELLO! MINNESOTA (Sterling). Both projects were enormously fun to write and I was so fortunate to have great illustrators for both books. Mike Wohnoutka for the holiday book and David Walker for the board book.

 

What is a normal “writing” workday like for you?

 

Normal work day? That’s a tough one. I strive to write for several hours in the morning, churning out three or four pages of my current project and then spend afternoons revising, catching up on research, reading emails, etc. A late afternoon walk with my husband and our extremely energetic puppy gives me time to ponder ideas and problems. Oh, and I’m addicted to lemon drops and pretzel chunks while I’m working.

 

Who are your favorite writers and why?

 

I have many favorite writers who inspire my work. Joan Bauer and Richard Peck are at the top of my list. Every one of Joan’s books is chock full of great humor and lots of heart. Richard Peck’s writing is so wise. I loved Katherine Applegate’s, THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. The structure of it and the way it conveyed the emotions of the animals was amazing. For picture books, I never tire of William Steig’s work. Also Martin Waddell. Both authors write stories with humor and warmth.

 

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

 

My advice to inspiring writers is familiar: read, read, read. Join a writer’s group, take classes and write for the joy it gives you, not fame or fortune.

What are you working on now?

 

I’m currently working on a middle grade novel. It’s history, mystery and ghost story. I’m also compiling a collection of letters my dad wrote. He was a computer pioneer and a pretty darn good writer. At present, the project is a labor of love for my family, but who knows what it might turn into!

 

Do you have any good news to share?

 

I’m proud to say that my picture book, THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN MINNESOTA, is going into its 6th printing this fall!

To learn more about Constance Van Hoven please stop by her web site at http://www.constancevanhoven.com and be sure to check-out her books at your local library or indie book store!