My guests this week on WHAT TO EXPECT…,
Chad Morris and Naomi Kinsman, are both authors of middle grades SERIES.
Yes, Virginia–Welcome to Part6:
Chad Morris’ fantasy/adventure series, Cragbridge Hall (Shadow Mountain), follows twins Abby and Derick Cragbridge who go to school in the year 2074, “where students don’t read history, but watch it happen around them; where running in gym class isn’t around a track, but up a virtual mountain; and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar.”
Naomi Kinsman is the author of the four book series, Faithgirlz/ From Sadie’s Sketchbook (Zonderkidz), about 12-year-old Sadie Douglas, who struggles to fit into a new town and school, facing questions about all she has come to believe, including family, friendships, and faith.
Book 3, BRILLIANT HUES, came out in September 2012, and book 4, WAVES OF LIGHT, came out April 2012.
Which leads to the topic I gave Naomi:
What to Expect When You’re Expecting… Quadruplets?
Naomi says her dream of being a writer started, “so long ago that I can’t remember when the fantasy began. I was an Anne of Green Gables kind of girl who ‘flies up on the wings of anticipation.’ For me, over half the joy of any activity is building the experience ahead of time in my mind, considering the options, making choices, planning, dreaming…Visioning is my strength and weakness. ”
So what did young author-wannabe Naomi expect?
Naomi: “I imagined Author Naomi would type her stories on a typewriter in a round turret office, possibly inside a lighthouse, looking out over a stormy sea which would sometimes, magically, be tropical so I could take breaks to drift on an inflatable raft while dolphins dove and jumped all around me. I’d ride a bicycle down to the village post office to pick up letters from readers and hand reply to each one of them. I’d fly to London and Paris and New York and even small towns in Kansas and do school visits where I’d work hands on with young writers. No matter how busy I became, I’d make sure that any young person who wanted to grow up to be a writer had absolutely everything they needed to pursue their dream. And on and on and on.”
What did adult Naomi expect?
Naomi: “As I grew up, my expectations matured, but at the base, they remained the same. I’d step into my professional life with grace. I’d be available to all, with time to be creative and to be a professional. I’d have hours on end to write, while also perfectly balancing all my other responsibilities. My books would easily find their way into the hands of readers. I’d thought it all through, considered the possibilities, and knew that because of my careful planning, I wouldn’t make any mistakes. Not important ones, anyway.”
What Really Happened:
Naomi: “When my From Sadie’s Sketchbook series was acquired, suddenly I had deadlines I wasn’t sure I could meet. Every six months a book was due, and I wrote in terror that maybe my words weren’t good enough. How would I know? I had to move on to the next project. There was no time to float around with the dolphins while pondering my next plot point.”
No floating indeed.
I can remember seeing Naomi in the hotel lobby of SCBWI LA one summer, revising madly in the early morning hours before the conference, while the rest of us stumbled past searching for coffee!
Naomi: “Then, the books started coming out, and all my ideas and plans about how to give each book the time and marketing attention it needed flew out the window. I was human and humans, unfortunately can only do one thing at a time.
“Here’s the thing, though. Under pressure, the Sadie books turned out to be better books than I could have written if I’d had all the time in the world. The school visits and letters back to readers and book launch parties have all had this delightful air of surprise, because I never really know what’s just around the corner. I can expect all I want, but in the end, I think the surprises are the good stuff. You won’t get what you expect, but the surprises will outweigh the disappointments. I’m sure I’ll never stop flying up on the wings of anticipation and crashing back down again, and honestly, the rush of anticipation is joyful. But the tiny real-life moments are a different kind of joy, a steadier, more sustainable kind of joy, and I, for one, need both.”
Sounds a lot like parenting to me…
Book-Dad Chad Morris agrees.
The Inventor’s Secret, which came out last March, was his first “baby.”
Book 2, Cragbridge Hall, The Avatar Battle, is due March 2014.
I asked Chad about his expectations before the “due date” and what really happened…
What Chad Expected
“Like having a baby, I had my mix of feeling crazy excited, nervous, and just plain impatient for The Inventor’s Secret. I’d like to think that I had some reasonably realistic expectations, though. I was a rookie, still am. My book probably wasn’t going to sell like crazy right out of the gate, and may never sell crazy at all. And I was okay with that. I was just thrilled to have the chance. But I hoped I did all I could to give it a chance to be successful—maybe even wildly successful.
“It’s rather similar to being a parent. I think I have some realistic expectations. My kids may not grow up to be geniuses, heart surgeons, movie directors, rock stars, ninjas, jedis, or rulers of the universe. And I’m okay with that. But I hope I’ve done what I should to give them a chance to be successful—maybe even wildly successful.
“The book market and the world in general can be quite fickle. They don’t always put value on what we wish. I really think the best move we can make is to work hard, love big, and hope for the best. ”
What Really Happened
(“the shortened version”) “About three weeks before my book hit the shelves, my nine-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a tumor on her pituitary gland. The thing was massive—about two and a half golf balls in size—and it was crowding her brain and her optic nerves. We went to one of the best neurosurgeons in the world (who happened to practice about 30 min. away from my home—blessing!) and went in for surgery about a week before my book came out.”
As for Chad and his new book–
Chad: “To be frank, I didn’t really care about my book. I hardly thought about it. I hardly thought about anything other than my girl and my family. It was a dream coming true, but I had a more important dream to take care of. I cancelled some of my tour, put the rest on the possible chopping block, and spent my book birthday with a brave nine-year-old in a hospital room. And I didn’t feel bad about it at all.
“Thankfully, the surgery went very well, if you saw my daughter now you’d never guess she’s had neurosurgery, and my book hasn’t bombed. In fact, for being a no-name rookie, I think it’s doing okay. I was able to pick up some of my tour dates and I LOVE doing school visits, talking with kids about books, and hanging out at signings. My kids like it too.
“So, just like having a kid, it didn’t go like I thought.”
Me: You and Shelly have five kids, right? How is having the next child like writing the next book?
Chad: “Yep, five kids. Shelly is awesome, and we’re crazy. Our house is often messy and noisy, but it’s also raging with fun and energy. Four of my five kids are in the target audience of my books (8-12 year-olds. Our twins just turned 8.) and they are full throttle stoked that their dad has a book out. I’m pretty sure my oldest boy could convince about anyone on the planet to read my book. My kids love to come to signings and events with me and meet other authors. They are pretty thrilled with the whole book scene right now.”
Me: And your next book?
Chad: “Well just like having another baby, it came with all the mix of feelings. I still have them. I knew that though it would have a familial resemblance to the first, it would be very different as well. And I wanted that. But whenever anything is different it can bring a little extra worry. Now, I have Cragbridge Hall, The Avatar Battle in for a final round of edits (I hope) and I’m hoping this baby is well accepted by the world.”
Check back in with Chad in March 2014 to find out!
Chad: “I’m optimistic about my books and my family. And that’s a great place to be. And if the pattern of my family holds true, next I’ll have two books at the same time. Twins! Then I’ll wait 3 years for another. And then I’ll be done.”
Follow these fabulous authors on Twitter @ChadCMorris @NaomiKinsman and READ their books!
And next week, check out part7– THE THIRD TRIMESTER: flip-turns, getting that baby to term, and decisions–decisions (especially with non-fiction!).