Q: How long does it take for you
to write a book?
A: Nonfiction books can take
from a few weeks for the early
readers to several months for
middle grade titles like The
Vikings or Keeping a Journal.
Middle grade & tween books
take 3 to 5 months to complete.
However, the work doesn't end
there. While my editor and I
focus on revisions, copy editors
are proofreading the book, an
illustrator is doing the cover and
any interior art, and the
marketing team is planning how
to promote the book. So it can
require more than a year for the
book to go from my head to
finished final product!
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for Secrets of a
A: Scab had been roaming around in my head for
awhile and it seemed like a good time to let him loose
on the world. I also wanted to write a boy character
and explore the see-saw brother-sister relationship.
Although Scab tends to enjoy ruffling his twin sister's
feathers, I hope readers see he really does need and
love Isabelle (sometimes more than even he realizes).
I think girls will definitely be able to identify with
Isabelle! Scab is troublesome, for sure, but he has a
conscience. He's a good kid. Thanks also to the
talented Jim Paillot for his wonderful illustrations. He
really brought Scab to life on the page.
Q: Where do you get your fiction ideas?
A: Everywhere! Things I see, hear, and read often
provide the inspiration I need for a situation,
character, or a whole book. When I'm out and about, I
observe people and how they interact with each
other. It's just a matter of opening up your mind &
absorbing things that are going on all around you.
Once you start doing it, you'll get more ideas than
you'll know what to do with. Try it yourself!
Q: I know Julep O'Toole is fiction but is any of it taken
from your real life?
A: Yep! I am a middle child like Julep, with an older
sister and a younger brother. Also, my brother had
severe allergies and asthma and we did trade rooms
so he could have a hardwood floor. But that's where
the similarities end. Nobody ever read my journal out
loud over the PA system and I didn't toss my cookies
on the gym floor, although once I really embarrassed
myself by ... on second thought I should probably
save that one for the next book!
Q: How do you come up with such fun names
for your characters?
A: I often hear a name (or noun) that strikes me
as interesting and unforgettable. I like it when a
name reflects a character's personality - or not.
Sometimes, it's fun to give a character a name
that is the exact opposite of who they are, or
claim to be. I always have a running list of
names in the back of my head, waiting for the
right story to match to each one.
Q: I want to be a published author. Do you have any advice for me?
A: READ! The more you read, the more you will learn what it takes to
craft a good story. Secondly, write as often as you can, whether it's
fiction, nonfiction, or making entries in your journal. BTW, I wrote a
book called Keeping a Journal, which takes you through a whole
month of journal writing. It will also help to take classes in school to
strengthen your skills, such as creative writing, newspaper, and
yearbook. Be persistent. It can take a while to get published but if
you keep at it, your opportunity will come. Most important, write what
you love to write, not what you think people want you to write.
Q: Do you like writing fiction or
A: It's impossible to choose!
Nonfiction gives me the chance
to do in-depth research on a
topic, so I'm constantly learning
and discovering. I love cool facts,
fun charts, and trivia (you'll find
plenty of those in my nonfiction
books). Fiction, on the other
hand, feeds my creative side. I
get to let my imagination soar and
see where it takes me! Just when
I get a bit tired of nonfiction it's
time to switch over to fiction, and
vice- versa. Doing both keeps life
fun and unpredictable.
Photo by Bill Trueit, copyright 2013.
Q: Did you have to overcome any struggles to become an author?
A: Absolutely! There are always challenges to tackle whenever you are following your passion. Besides getting tons of
rejection letters from publishers before, finally, getting my first acceptance, I also have vision issues. I had eye surgery as a
kid, so my vision has never been great. Even so, I've been able to make some adjustments to accommodate my eyesight.
My computer screen is HUGE! A handicap may mean you have to do some things differently in your life, but it doesn't have
to stop you from pursuing your dreams! It also helps to surround yourself with loving, supportive friends and family. I would
not be where I am today without the encouragement of my family and my incredible husband, Bill.
Do you ever do school
or library visits?
A: Yes, I do! Meeting
students is one of my
favorite parts of the job.
My writing schedule &
vision issues, however,
mean I can't travel to
schools as often as I'd
like. Fortunately, Skype
and Google allow me to
go anywhere with the
click of a mouse. I am
able discuss the craft of
writing, lead workshops,
and do readings all from
my home office. I've
done virtual visits with
classes, libraries, and
book clubs across the
country. It really is the
next best thing to being
there! For more info,
check out my Virtual
Visits page. Hope to
'see' you online!