Questions from Young Writers

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I ‘ve been having a blast doing School Visits lately. Here I am with my friends at Joseph Sims Elementary, in the middle of a crazy theater game.  : )  Fun! While I was there, the 2nd graders of Mrs. Wood-Kilmer’s class asked me these questions:

1. What is your favorite genre to read/write? (Ethan, Adrian Ramero) First of all, I’m amazed that 2nd graders know what a genre is! Are you sure you guys aren’t in college? Anyway, I love mysteries–from middle grades to adult. My favorite middle school mysteries are the Sammy Keyes books by Wendelin Van Draanen. My middle grades mystery, A Message From the Top Banana , is at a publisher right now, so think good publishing thoughts! I also love to read and write picture books, as you can probably tell.

2. What made you start writing? (Bailey)  When I was teaching high school drama, I wrote plays and skits for my students to perform because I couldn’t find published plays that worked for us. Teachers at the elementary school asked me to write plays for their classes too. One day, I found a book that one of my students left on stage and thought, Hmmm…maybe I could do that. I’ve always told my students to beat the If onlies . (You know: If only I was a better athlete…  If only I was taller…If only I had time to write…) So I decided to listen to my own advice and start writng!

3. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an author? (Khushal) I certainly wasn’t in 2nd grade ! When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be the world’s best tetherball player, but they never made it an Olympic sport. : )  If you’ve heard me read excerpts from my 7th grade journal, you know that my teachers never expected me to write books some day. I liked writing notes and letters to my friends. And when I listened to music, I always wrote down the lyrics to my favorite songs. But I really didn’t think about being an author until I was a teacher.

4. How long did it take to write Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox ? And how long did it take to get it published? (Adrian Razo)  It took four years to get published and a few weeks to write, once I started writing.  I think the hardest part about writing it was getting started. Once I began putting words on paper, instead of thinking about "writing a book some day…" I was hooked! And yes, it’s true that I carried my sloppy copy around with me everywhere, and wrote most of it in the car pool pick-up line, wating for my daughter to get out of school. The publishing process for a picture book normally takes about two years, but Goldie took a little longer because my wonderful editor at Atheneum was determined to find the perfect "match." As I explained in a previous post, editors are the ones who match writers with illustrators. And I feel VERY lucky that she matched me with such a unique and talented illustrator like Hanako Wakiyama. I love her work!

5. What made you think of mixing nursery rhymes and stories together? (Hunter)   Years ago, I directed one of my favorite musicals, "Into the Woods" by Stephen Sondheim and James LaPine, with my high school students. The idea that the nursery rhyme characters all lived in the same neighborhood kept bubbling in my brain until I wrote Goldie.

6. Have you ever made a mistake in your writing? (Isaac) You bet ! Like I tell the students in my assemblies, that’s what sloppy copies are for! And actually, I don’t think "mistakes" are bad, as long as you learn from them. A lot of great stories and inventions came from "happy accidents."  If you ask me, the only bad mistake you can make as a writer is when you have a story in your head and you don’t write it down.

7. What is your favorite children’s book? (Sammy) Oh, boy. The answer to that question changes weekly! Check my web site for some of my favorite books and authors.

8. What are you currently working on? (Nike)  I’m working on a YA novel set in the drama department of a small high school. (Gee, I wonder where that idea came from?) I also have two new picture book manuscripts bubbling out of my brain. And I’m thinking GOOD publishing thoughts for the manuscripts that are currently under consideration with publishers.

9. Will all the books rhyme? (Jordan) Most of my picture books do, but I don’t ever set out to rhyme. That’s just the way the story pops into my brain.  I have a manuscript called 100 Worms that doesn’t rhyme, and my novels are in prose as well.

10. Of your two published books, which one is your favorite? (Gaby) That’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite. : )  I love them all for different reasons, just like your parents love you!

Thanks again to the students at Joseph Sims  elementary. Here’s a question for you:

      How much do I like School visits?

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This much!

Time to PBIC and Write Now! Maybe you should too…

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