Category Archives: Style

Interview With Edith Hemingway and Book Giveaway

IMG_6393 CopyingimagesRoad to Tater Hill

Today’s author Interview is with Edith M. Hemingway, author of Road to Tater Hill. I met Edith aka Edie at an SCBWI event in October. Edie was our teacher for the day. She talked about many great things especially settings and what makes them great. I enjoyed every second of Edie’s mini workshops and knew immediately I wanted to purchase her book.
But, I couldn’t just buy one. I needed a second copy to give to my readers (yes that would be you). So, sit back and read another great interview and don’t forget to leave a comment at the end so you can be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of Road to Tater Hill.

Hi Edie, how are you today?

Thank you for stopping by Writing Like Crazy.
It’s my pleasure.

Edie or would you rather we call you Edith?
All my friends call me Edie.

Can you tell me when you fell in love with writing?
I had a wonderful fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Virginia Ormsby, who was a published children’s book author. She read her manuscripts to our class before sending them off to her editor, and she set aside quiet writing time after lunch everyday. I won a creative writing contest that year and decided some day I would be a published author. I’ve had other teachers who have inspired me since then, but Mrs. Ormsby was the one who planted the seed.

When did you decide that you wanted to pursue writing professionally?
As I mentioned above, I first decided to pursue writing back in fourth grade, but for many years it took a backseat in my life. I got back to writing in my 30s when I had young children at home. My first co-authored book, Broken Drum, was started in 1989 and published in 1996. I’ve been writing steadily ever since.

If I remember correctly, I think you mentioned that you met your agent at a writer’s conference. Can you please tell us a little bit about this meeting and how it set things into motion?

Actually, it was my editor at Delacorte Press/Random House, Michelle Poploff, whom I met at a SCBWI conference in Maryland. She critiqued the first 10 pages of Tater Hill (my working title at the time) and asked me to send her the entire manuscript when I finished it. Nearly a year later I sent her the completed manuscript and after several telephone discussions about revisions, she offered me a contract. I never submitted it elsewhere. It was one of those amazing contacts that aspiring authors dream about.

Okay, let’s get to Road to Tater Hill. This book deals with a young girl named Annie who starts off being excited about the birth of a new sibling but ends up having to come to terms with the baby’s death.
In the beginning of the book you write in memory of my baby sister Kate. Did your experience with losing your sister (I’m truly sorry for the loss) inspire this story?

Yes, that experience during the summer I turned eleven left a lasting emotional impact on my life. Near the start of my MFA program, I had an assignment to write about an emotional event in my childhood. The resulting ten-page memoir later became the basis for Road to Tater Hill, which includes many events from my childhood (not all experienced during that same summer) as well as some fictionalized events and fictional characters. I realized that a plot had to involve more than just my grief over the loss of my baby sister.

Can you tell us a little bit about Annie’s character?

Annie began very much as I was at that age, but when I was several chapters into the book, my faculty mentor in the MFA program suggested I change from first person POV to third person in order to give myself a little distance from my character and the emotional events. This advice allowed Annie to become a character in her own right, and she became a bolder, more adventurous girl than I was–much more interesting, I think. It wasn’t until I was in my final round of revisions with my editor that I had the idea to switch back to first person POV in order to dig a little deeper into Annie’s emotions. I’m glad I did.

In the mini class I took with you, you passed around a rock and had each of us hold it. Annie is attached to her rock in this story. How did the idea of the rock baby come to you?

The idea for the rock baby actually evolved from the scene I was writing. It’s amazing how characters take on lives of their own the better you get to know them, and sometimes do things you don’t plan or expect. The rock baby became a tangible means for Annie to deal with the loss of her baby sister and was very much a part of the healing process. Plus, I have to admit I love rocks–maybe I was a geologist in another life.


I love that Annie journals throughout the book. Do you journal?

I have journaled on and off throughout my life–mainly when traveling or when going through a difficult or unusual time. I have used those journals as a source for descriptive details of different settings and emotional situations for a number of different stories. I still have the journal I kept when I was 14 and traveling through Europe with my parents and brother. It was actually a school asignment to keep the journal since I was out of school for 6 weeks. I’m amazed at the details I included in those daily entries, and it’s fun to look back at that exciting time in my life.

There are a lot of memorable characters in this book, especially Miss Eliza. Would you mind telling my readers a little about the mountain lady?

Miss Eliza is the one truly fictional character in Road to Tater Hill, but she has some of the heartwarming characteristics of a lovely mountain woman, who was a dear friend of my grandmother. That friend was a weaver, and I used to sit in her home and watch (and listen to) her working away at her loom. I also wanted to incorporate more of the Appalachian mountain heritage into Miss Eliza’s character, so as I got to know her better, I realized that she also played the dulcimer (better known as the “hog fiddle” in the book). I won’t tell any more about Miss Eliza’s character because I want the readers to learn her story as the book unfolds.

Do you have a favorite character in the book?

Miss Eliza is definitely my favorite character in the book, but Grandpa is a close second and the one truest to life. My grandfather really did waltz with me, just as Grandpa waltzes with Annie in the book.

In your class you spoke about the importance of setting. Can you let my readers know some of the things you do to familiarize yourself with your books settings? You gave great advice that stuck with me.

Setting is very important to me, both as a reader and as a writer. I like to make setting integral to my stories, and I always travel to the places I write about because it’s not enough for me to research online or in books. I want to smell the smells, taste the food, walk the roads and paths, touch the trees, meet the poeple, listen to the way they talk, and so on. I always advise writers to look at setting through the eyes of their characters, look for specific details that their characters would notice, and let the emotions of their characters help dictate how they react to the setting.

I also remember talking about the cover in your class. What was your first impression of the book’s cover?

Many people think that authors have a say in the design of their book covers. In most cases, they do not.
However, my editor did ask me for my thoughts, and I wanted it to reflect Annie’s love of the mountains and the creek. I also hoped that the cover would not show Annie’s face because I like readers to come up with their own image of what they think the main character looks like. So my first impression was that I loved the picture of Annie sitting on the rock by the creek, but I was disappointed that it showed her face. However, I have come to love the cover, and I know the art director read the book and worked very hard to find a young girl who fit Annie’s description very well!

Road to Tater Hill won a Parent’s Choice award. Can you tell us how you felt when you received notification that your book won such a great award?

I was very excited about this honor and happy to know that not only the intended audience of 9 to 12-year-olds liked the book, but also parents and other adults of all ages. I think part of the draw is the intergenerational plot. A school in Boone, North Carolina (the actual setting of the book) used Road to Tater Hill as their family reading project last year, and families (including children, parents, and grandparents) read the book together and then came to a group discussion that I led at the end of the 5-week project.

Congratulations, that’s a huge accomplishment.

Thank you!

What is the biggest emotion readers of Road to Tater Hill walk away with?

Oh my, that’s a hard one to answer. I know there’s grief involved, but overall I think of the book as a story of healing and, ultimately, of hope. One of the nicest reviews the book received was written by a 13-year-old girl for Stone Soup magazine. This is how she described it: “Road to Tater Hill is a heartwarming, fulfilling story of friendship, family, hope, home and the bumpy road through grief.”

Do you have any upcoming books?

I am working on a book set on an island off the coast of Maine, and I have a number of other story ideas brewing in my head.

In addition to being a successful author, you find time to teach workshops to aspiring authors. How did you begin doing this? Where can my readers find more information about your workshops (which are great)?

I began teaching non-credit creative writing classes at a community college after I graduated from Spalding University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing program (MFA). When a friend said that my 1930s log
cabin home was the perfect writing retreat, I came up with the idea of teaching writing workshops in my own home. However, in the last few years I’ve been so busy as the Co-Regional Advisor for the MD/DE/WV region of SCBWI that I’ve taken a hiatus from the home workshops. And I have recently joined the MFA faculty at Spalding University. I love the teaching and will be on the faculty at their residency abroad in Ireland this summer.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?Read, read, read!

The best writers were avid readers first. And advice always comes back to the fact that you first have to sit down and write. Once you have that first draft on paper, then the real meat of writing begins. Don’t be too quick to submit your work before it’s been through a number of revisions, and you’ve had some feedback from readers/writers whose comments you trust.

Okay, I like to end my interviews with some fire questions, I hope you’re ready.

1. Do you have a favorite author? Richard Peck, Deborah Wiles, Audrey Couloumbis, Gary D. Schmidt, Katherine Paterson, Patricia MacLachlan to name a few. It’s very difficult for me to narrow it down to one because I’m always finding another good book to read.

2.What is the first book you remember falling in love with?

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

3. Do you have a writing spot? I have a wonderful little writing cabin that my husband built for me in the woods behind my house. I’ll attach a photo.

4. Have you ever written down an idea on something odd? (I once wrote an idea on a matchbook because there was no paper to be found) Well, I’ve definitely jotted notes and ideas on napkins or any little scrap of paper I can find in my purse. I generally try to keep a small notebook with me–especially when I’m traveling, and I’ve emailed notes to myself on my cell phone.

5. Finally, do you have a favorite word? (Mine is Believe) I’d say “connections.” The connections you can make in a writing community are amazing!

Please let my readers know where they can purchase your book. they can find you, blog, twitter, facebook, web page, etc?
My website is www.ediehemingway.com. You can find me on FaceBook, but I’m afraid I don’t spend much time there. I’m a contributor to the One Potato…Ten blog, which is a wonderful group of 10 authors and illustrators found at onepotatoten.blogspot.com.
And you can buy my book through Amazon, Random House, or ask for it at your favorite indie bookstore.

I loved reading through all of your answers and can’t wait to give one lucky reader a signed copy of Road to Tater Hill. Thank you for taking time to chat.

Thank you very much, Maribeth. I’ve enjoyed it!

And you can buy my book through Amazon, Random House, or ask for it at your favorite indie bookstore.

Okay guys, ready, set, comment! It’s as simple that. One person will be drawn randomly. This is a great book (and did I mentioned it’s signed) and if you win it’s free! I hope to see tons of comments. 🙂

UPDATE: I’M LEAVING THIS CONTEST OPENED UNTIL WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 27TH. IN ORDER TO BE ENTERED FOR A CHANCE TO WIN THE SIGNED COPY YOU MUST LEAVE A COMMENT. 🙂

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Filed under Author Interview, books, Giveaway, stories, story writing, writer's life, writers, Writing

Happy NanoWrimo

Hello writers, do you know what today is? It’s November first which means, it’s National Novel Writing Month. It’s your chance to write 50,000 words in thirty days. I’m not participating this year but I am currently editing my young adult novel that I began writing two years ago during Nanowrimo. My story goes like this; I was in the midst of writing a middle-grade fantasy novel. I had it completely outlined. The characters were in place, settings were created and ending was known, when I received a challenge from my sister-in-law (who also happens to be my writer bff). She had recently decided that she wanted to get back into writing and thought Nanowrimo was exactly what she needed to get her fingers typing. But, she wanted someone to do it with her.
I kicked the idea around for a few days but knew I wasn’t going to use my wip (The middle-grade fantasy) because that would sort of be cheating. Ironically the night before November first I had a crazy dream. As I was writing the details of the dream into my journal, it hit me. Use this dream to base a new novel on. And so, my young adult novel was born. I don’t think I achieved the fifty thousand by the end of the month but I did finish a novel which I’m super excited about. Yes, it’s two years later and I’m just now getting it ready to query. It was the first novel I wrote organically. I let it evolve naturally and the result was better than I could imagine.
My dream inspired the novel, but I could have never dreamt of what it would become. I just hope that an agent likes it as much as I do, which is why I am taking as long as needed to get it as close to perfect as possible. Without, the challenge from my sister-in-law or Nanowrimo, this novel wouldn’t exist which is why I say, “Go for it!”
Ten tips to help you with Nanowrimo
1. Just start writing. Don’t worry if you think it’s junk. Get the words on the paper (or keyboard)
2. Put a motivating quote in front of you each day.
3. Let everything around you inspire you. Did you notice someone in the grocery store that would be great for a character? (Perhaps the teenager checking you out.)
4. If you aim for seventeen hundred words a day, you will meet your goal.
5. Surf the web for others who are also participating. It’s great to have a cheering section.
6. Read about Nanowrimo success stories. Every time you feel like quitting, remind yourself it worked for someone else.
7. Keep repeating this sentence- By the end of this month I will have written a novel.
8. Crank up the music. Music helps you get into the groove and may spark an idea.
9. Listen to the small voices inside your head; they are your characters dictating the story to you.
10. Search for your congratulatory gift to yourself and when you complete Nanowrimo, go buy it.

Good Luck everyone! Leave me a comment telling us whether or not you’re participating. If you’re this year, have you ever?

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, novel, stories, writer's life, writers, Writing

I LOVE THEM BOTH FOR DIFFERENT REASONS


About a year ago my husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday. I was thrilled. Getting a Kindle meant I was going to be able to purchase a book faster than it would take me to walk from one room to another. I would no longer have to wait until I got a chance to get to the book store. I had stories at my fingertips. Before getting a Kindle, I often wondered “Would it feel natural? Would I be distracted by the fact I wasn’t physically turning a page?” I was happy to discover that nothing about it felt awkward.

One day in the middle of reading a great book it happened. My Kindle died. (I hadn’t realized the battery was low). I stared at the black screen and cursed it and myself. Now what was I going to do? I wouldn’t be able to get back to that great book until I charged the Kindle. As I walked into my writing room to retrieve the charger I glanced at my beautiful bookshelf and instantly became sad. I realized that I still loved the traditional book and felt bad for abandoning it. I sat in the chair and thought about all the books I have read and started to make a mental list of why I loved the traditional book. First off, I simply love what they look like. I love seeing them lined up together on a shelf. I love the book cover (yes on Kindle you can see the cover but I still don’t think it’s the same). I love the colors of the covers (I know now I’m sounding “out there,” but I do.) Other than the appearance I love the feel of a book. I enjoy turning the pages. I love being able to see the thickness of the pages I have already read. I like flipping ahead to see how far I have to go and wondering how long it will take me. I especially love how worn out my book looks by the time I’m done reading it. I am always surprised when someone loans me a soft covered book they already read and it’s in impeccable condition. My paperback books are frayed, bent and ripped. Looking at them reminds me that I escaped to a place that someone else created. It’s concrete. It’s there as a reminder for me and as an example for my children. A worn book shows them that it was read and may inspire them to wear out some books of their own.
You see, I love them both. I think I can be loyal to both of them do you?

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10 Things a Writer Needs

1. Patience

2. Imagination

3. Other Writers

4. Belief

5. Persistence

6. Inspiration

7. Dedication

8. A Writing Spot

9. Alone Time

10. Emotions

What did I miss?

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MY GUEST BLOG POST FOR AGENT BREE OGDEN

Do you think a writer needs to go on a diet? A writing diet that is. Check out my guest post over at This Literary Life. Bree Ogden (a super agent) was cool enough to allow me to write a blog for her site. It is the first time I have written for another blog as a guest and I’m super excited.

Make sure you leave a comment so I know you stopped by.

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Filed under audience, Author Interview, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, critique, critique groups, editing, Fiction, Inspirational, life, rejections, stories, story telling, story writing, Style, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Getting Rid of My Book’s “Baby Fat”


I’m approaching the end of my YA novel titled The Cult. I have been writing this suspense novel for about two years. The idea came to me in a dream right around the time Nanowrimo was about to start. I was about three chapters into a middle-grade novel (I’m excited to get back to that one) when my sister-in-law presented me with a challenge. “Hey, let’s do Nanowrimo,” she said. She had been contemplating writing a book for some time and Nanowrimo was the push she needed to get started. I accepted her challenge and began writing never realizing at the time it would take me two years to finish the book I never planned on writing. Writing this book was different from the others I have written. It was the first time I chose to just keep writing and not look back. My previous books I would write a chapter, edit a chapter, and then continue. I took more of an organic approach with this one and I’m hopeful it will pay off.

Growing up in an Italian family meant that eating was good. The more you ate the healthier you were. As I got older I realized that what I ate mattered more than how much I ate. It was time to get rid of the “baby fat”. Today I am getting rid of my book’s “baby fat” and replacing it with healthier options. I have to be honest with myself and admit that some of what I wrote was nothing more than junk or fillers. At the time it sounded good but in the end it weighed the book down. The junk made the pace sluggish and hid the story inside.

It’s time to sculpt my book and help it become the best version of itself. I don’t want it to be filled with empty words. I want it to be healthy and full but not stuffed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on editing your book for publication. How do you know when your story is weighed down?

“Do you have a hard time putting your book on a “diet”?

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Filed under audience, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, editing, emotions, Fiction, Giveaway, Inspirational, life, meme, middle grade fiction, NaNoWriMo, novel, random, rejections, routine, story telling, story writing, Style, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Interview With LK-Gardner-Griffie

I’m back! As promised I have an author interview for you today. LK-Gardner-Griffie is the author of Misfit McCabe and Nowhere Feels Like Home. The third book No Boundries will be released this summer. The books follow the life of 14 year old Katie McCabe.
LK is very talented and her journey to publication is extremely interesting. She inspires me to keep going.

The online reviews of Misfit McCabe are impressive. If you are looking for something to read now that the summer is here, pick up Misfit McCabe and Nowhere Feels Like Home. I am positive you will be happy that you did.

I’d love to hear what you think of this interview so please leave a comment.

Hi LK, How are you today?
LK: I’m actually recovering from pneumonia, but I can breathe, washed my hair, and I did a little revising today, so we’ll call it a win all around.

I’d like to start off by asking you a question about your name. Is LK something you chose as your Pen name? Did you choose this or did an agent or editor recommend it? I always wondered if pen names were suggested or not (you know, sort of how some celebrities are encouraged to change their names).

LK: I think I decided to go with my initials at around age ten, so no agent or editor was involved at that time. I decided I wanted to write books when I was nine, and by ten I started thinking about what name would be on the cover. Every year at the beginning of school, or with every substitute teacher I had, my name, which is Liana, would get mangled and it irritated me that teachers, who should know everything, couldn’t get a simple thing like my name right. So I started thinking about how much more it would get mangled when I became a famous author and how easy I would be to find (I’ve always been a private person). And came to the conclusion that if I used initials, it added a bit of mystique and I could write as either a boy or a girl. And while the sting of being called Linda every year until the teacher learned my name had faded, by the time I had completed my first novel, the idea of using initials stuck with me.

Okay, let’s start with Misfit McCabe. How did you come up with this idea?

LK: Misfit McCabe came to me. Literally, in the form of a dream. I woke up one morning with the dream still playing in my head and the desire to write it as a book was born. I didn’t dream every detail, but most of the key parts of Misfit McCabe were in the dream. You’d better believe I did some fast scribbling to capture as much as I could.

Ooh interesting. The book I am currently completing also came to me in a dream.

Can you tell us about how long it took you to write this book?

LK: Believe it or not, this question is a little difficult for me to answer because Misfit McCabe was written quite awhile ago. But my memory says, I think approximately two months for the first draft. Nowhere Feels Like Home was drafted in four weeks, but it gushed out and I just rode the wave. With Misfit McCabe, I wasn’t sure what I was writing was worth the paper it was on, so I took a writing class to help get some feedback on the work, and I’d finished before the class was over, but revisions took longer—as they always do for me.

What was the querying process like for you? Did you rack up a lot of rejections prior to getting the “acceptance”.

LK: With Misfit McCabe, I had a roller-coaster type of experience. I didn’t rack up a lot of rejections prior to getting the “acceptance”, but I did afterward. Let me preface this by saying publishing was a different animal when I wrote Misfit McCabe and even then my experience was an exceptional one. As I mentioned I took a writing course to help make sure I was on the right track with the technical aspects of the story. During the class, we found out about a local writers conference and I decided to go. My first exposure to agents came at the conference when the agents who took the stage that day gave a talk about what they look for in their submissions. One basically said she had a full client list and wasn’t interested in any new submissions. (And I wondered why she was there.) The other gave a realistic talk about the type of time the agent spends on the various activities and where you, as a new writer, fit into that time scheme. Then after the conference, I noticed the agent who actually said something of value had a circle of people around her asking questions, so I joined the group on the fringes, just so I could soak up the information. I had no intentions of asking any questions, I just wanted to learn as much as I could.

She then turned to me and asked what I wanted to know. I panicked. And thinking fast, I asked what the best way was to find agents who handled juvenile fiction. (This was prior to the internet, and even prior to young adult as a separate category, and agents for juvenile work were sparse.) She said that she had a friend who handled juvenile, and that they were trying to work out a co-op type of arrangement where they would recommend clients to each other, and to send her my first three chapters and she’d see whether she could refer me to her friend.
I was ecstatic and scared. And I probably wrote the lamest query letter of all times… along the lines of “Hi – I met you at the conference and you asked me to send you three chapters and here they are.” I sent my package off the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and that Sunday I received “the call”. She couldn’t stand to be away from the office, so had gone in and my manuscript pages were there and she read them…and LOVED them. By that time I couldn’t feel my feet, but managed to squeak out “does that mean you’re going to refer me to your friend?” To which she responded, “No, I’m want to represent you.” And it was done. (Again, different times and most of publishing was handled by a “handshake” and not a contract.) I had an agent. And after a bona fide happy dance, panic settled in. Holy crap, she wanted the rest of the manuscript and I hadn’t finished it yet. So I came down off my cloud and finished writing the book.

The rejections. Well, it would have been nice if my agent had done something with my manuscript, but I’m afraid it languished around the office waiting to be noticed again. My mistake was not insisting that it be sent to someone who handled juvenile fiction as a part of their work. I was just so happy that an agent loved my work, and to be honest, I was so new to the publishing industry I didn’t know any better. Then there were problems within the agency and the agency dissolved and all of the work was divided up, but my lone little juvenile manuscript didn’t have a home because no one handled juvenile, so it came back to me after a couple years. And Writer’s Market and I went to work. But in those days, simultaneous submissions were taboo, so one submission at a time, via snail mail with average response times of approximately six months. So while I didn’t wrack up a lot of rejections, it happened over years. And life kept getting crazier until I had a job where I traveled constantly and I simply stopped submitting.
Then one day toward the end of 2007, I decided enough was enough, Misfit McCabe had gathered enough dust, and I wanted to put it out to share with my family and friends, so decided to self-publish it. I did another couple of rounds of revisions (I’m addicted to revisions and sometimes don’t know when to stop), had a cover made, and put it out. I’ll share a little more about what happened with it, when I answer some of the questions below.

Can you tell us about Katie (the main character)?
When I first read the back cover of Misfit McCabe I thought I bet I could relate to this girl (growing up I was sort of a rebel but never really wanted to be. I guess you could say I was an accidental rebel).
LK: Katie. She and I have been together for so long it’s like she’s a part of me. She’s smart, but doesn’t think before she acts most of the time. She definitely has attitude, and can be contrary to work with. But she has an innocence that comes of having been well-protected growing up. She’s a staunch friend, has a quick temper, and is very emotional. In short, she’s a teenager. And in many ways, while she rebels, she doesn’t really want to—she craves acceptance, but has difficulty in believing that her new family does care for her and wants her to be a part of the family.

In the first book it is told that Katie lost her mother and her father was seriously ill. How did you tap into the emotions of that for this character?

LK: I’ve always been an empathetic writer. Well, I guess first I’m an empathetic reader. I’ve always been able to put myself in the place of the characters in a book and feel what they are feeling. Which is why when I read, I’m so often a mess afterward, all it takes is a sad moment and I’m bawling my eyes out. So I use that same ability when I write. I experience my characters’ pain. It comes naturally for me to do this, so it is difficult for me to explain how. I believe in them, they are real to me, and just as when you share the pain and suffering of a friend, I share theirs. My job is to keep enough of my mind above the feeling to capture it. But my heart has broken many times with Katie. I go through it first draft, and with every single revision.

I know a lot of what we do as writers is imagine what it would be like to be in a situation. Did you have to imagine the pain she felt or did you have life experiences that told you first hand?

LK: Yes and no. I had both parents in my life growing up, so for the emotions surrounding the absence of her mother, I have to imagine… or the way I think of it, I allow Katie to tell me how she feels. At the time I originally wrote Misfit McCabe, my own father was still alive and at that point well, but had been very ill with cancer during my teens, when I was a little younger than Katie’s fourteen. So I understand her fears about her father’s illness, but because her life changes so drastically, those fears are somewhat sublimated because of all of the new experiences she’s having. When she loses her father, I had not yet lost mine, so you can say that I had to imagine the pain, but I would disagree. Throughout my life I have experienced loss of loved ones, and with the illness my father had in my teens, I went through the same emotions as if I had lost him because he was not expected to live. As writers we can draw on any life experience and extrapolate it to what we need to connect with our character. The loss of a pet is a loss, and can be used to delve into that emotion. I think I have even called on emotions experienced from reading a book to help me in my writing before.

Early in my writing career, I read that a writer should interview their main character. Was their a process that you followed when writing about Katie?

LK: I was so green when I started writing Katie, I wouldn’t have known what you meant by a character interview. But since that time I have done character interviews with her, and with some of my other characters. Katie talks to me…when she’s not in a snit about something, so most of the time I don’t need to interview her. I use the question and answer times for when she’s clamming up about something, which usually means it’s something that has more layers and she’s not comfortable with exploring, which means we have to. For the third book in the series (no release date yet), No Boundaries, I had to do a character interview with one of my characters who kept feeding me fantastic lines, but refused to tell me her name or let me see what she looked like. I had her voice, but nothing else. The root of the problem? She didn’t like her name and she didn’t want to be stereotyped. No worries on that score—she is decidedly an individual. I have another character for another book (Middle Grade) for which there was no need to interview her. She marched up told me her name and told me I was going to write her story.

It is always interesting to me to learn about how other writers connect with their characters. I have journals filled with my character interviews.

The follow up to Misfit McCabe is Nowhere Feels Like Home. What can readers expect in the second book?

LK: Nowhere Feels Like Home was an interesting one for me because, without giving too much away, Katie winds up with a broken ankle at the end of Misfit McCabe and Nowhere Feels Like Home picks up hours after the conclusion of Misfit McCabe, so I have a very active, always looking for something to get into, teenager laid up in bed for the duration of the book. Also, originally the book was not supposed to be a sequel, but a companion book to Misfit McCabe. As I mentioned, the first book was written years ago, but Nowhere Feels Like Home, was written in 2009. And all those years ago I meant Misfit McCabe to be a stand-alone. But after finishing it realized there was another story I wanted to tell, that of Katie’s cousin Sarah. So Nowhere Feels Like Home became a blended book, where I fulfilled the needs of my reader’s by continuing Katie’s story, but also had a chance to tell Sarah’s story as Sarah relates her past to Katie. It gives Katie more of a feeling of her roots, and there is so much from the past that is influencing Katie’s present that she knows nothing about. I like to think of Misfit McCabe as being a story about a girl and her experiences and is very Katie-centric. Nowhere Feels Like Home gives more of a flavor of the McCabe family. The third book, No Boundaries, focuses more on school life.

I’d like to congratulate you on the awards these books have received. Misfit McCabe placed runner up in the Montreal’s Pearson Prize Teen Choice Award and then Nowhere Feels like Home received the The Pearson Prize Teen Choice Award the following year.

How did it feel to be told your book won an award? Was it a surreal moment?

LK: Thanks!! As I mentioned in a previous question, I published Misfit McCabe with the idea of giving copies to family and some friends. But then it started selling to strangers, and I received an email from Michael Sweet, a teacher in Montreal who runs the Learning for a Cause organization, requesting Misfit McCabe’s participation in The Pearson Prize Teen Choice Awards. To say I was surprised was an understatement. I checked into the contest and I really liked the premise of it and even though my book is geared toward the younger side of young adult, and these were high school students, felt that it was an honor to be asked to participate, so I sent in the book expecting to be a participant only. So it was very much a surprise to receive the letter advising me Misfit McCabe had achieved runner up, in a contest where 150 books were read by over 100 students. Not bad for a book which was really geared more toward middle school/junior high age. Then when I completed Nowhere Feels Like Home, the submissions were being accepted for The Pearson Prize Teen Choice Award for 2010, so I sent it in, again not expecting to win. So yes, surreal covers it nicely. It provides me immense satisfaction that students voted on the stories and two years in a row were deemed favorites. They are who I write for, so it really does mean a lot to me.

Everything about becoming published intrigues me especially the book covers. Did you have any input into what your book cover would look like? I have to tell you, I thought Katie looked like a younger version of you. I wondered if this was purely coincidental.

LK: On the covers, the current Misfit McCabe cover is the second cover it has borne. The first one was more comic like in appearance because I really didn’t want to show a person on the cover. I like for the reader to use their imagination and come up with what the character looks like to them. But I had several comments about the cover being too young for the book. People either seemed to love it or hate it. It was polarizing. And since it was something I put out myself, I had complete control over what was on the book, so I decided to change it. In the traditional scenario, I would as a debut author, have had little to no say at all about the design of the cover. Being the publisher, I got to change it, so I started looking for suitable pictures. When I ran across the pictures, which were listed with a creative commons license, it was Katie to me. I recognized her instantly. I knew she had to be my cover. And yes, that she does look like a younger version of me is completely coincidental. I didn’t look like that at her age. The new cover has gone over much better and is more universally liked. What’s interesting is that at a book festival I attended when I was trying to decide on which cover to go with, I had a few books made up with different covers to ask readers which they liked the best. I had both bookmarks with the old cover and ones with potential new covers. Younger kids and boys picked up the old cover and the target age girls picked up the new cover. I have quite a few boys who really enjoyed Misfit McCabe, so in a way I was a little sad to change a cover that appealed to them. I don’t know how many boys will feel comfortable reading the book with the new cover. At least in public.

Can you tell us what you find to be the biggest challenge when it comes to writing?

LK: Sustained belief in myself and my abilities. Most days, I’m pretty good about knowing that I’m a good writer, and that my stories hang together well, but I have, as I think we all do, some devastating moments where believing that what I’m working on matters to anyone else, or that I have the ability to string a sentence together is a long stretch. I don’t write edgy, so it won’t fit in today’s market, or my story isn’t about big issues, but the small ones kids face daily. And usually that’s where I can get myself turned back around. My work does connect with kids and it connects with adults. And I have some concepts for books which scare the tar out of me… I’m not sure that I have the writing chops to take them on, but I know I will and I’ll futz with them until I get them right. And then the world can judge whether I accomplished my goal or not. I’ll continue to write because I have to. The stories keep coming and I need to be able to write faster so I can get them all down.

Twitter is a great way to connect with other writers and potential readers (it’s where I met you) can you tell my readers where they may find you (eg. blog, twitter facebook etc).
Website: http://www.griffieworld.com
Blog: http://blog.griffieworld.com
Book site: http://www.misfitmccabe.com
Twitter: @lkgg (http://www.twitter.com/lkgg)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLKGardnerGriffie
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MisfitMcCabe
AuthorsDen: http://www.authorsden.com/lkgardnergriffie
I also have LinkedIn & Myspace, but am so rarely there I won’t bother to put the links.

Do you have more planned for Katie?

LK: No Boundaries the third book in the series will be released some time this summer. I’m going through the final revision stage (again and again) and have the cover already done. I am currently working on the fourth book in the series, which is untitled as yet. And have a fifth book planned. For me, that will be the end of the series.

Okay, I have a few personal questions to ask if that’s okay.
1. Do you have a writing spot?

LK: I would LOVE to have a writing spot. At the moment, I tend to do most of my writing in bed because I have three long-haired miniature dachshunds who bang on the door, whine, or will scratch my leg if I write in another room. I have a lap table and a bed stand that I use for my laptop and they lay next to me or on my lap as I write. When we move, I plan to have a specific writing room and will use good ear plugs, so I’m not distracted by pups or my husband. Actually, I did use a writing room when working on the revisions for Misfit McCabe and wound up using a pouch to put our then youngest pup in and had to reach around her to get to the keyboard. She’d go promptly to sleep, but couldn’t stand to be on the floor at my feet.

2. When an idea comes to mind what do you do with it?

LK: Usually when an idea hits me, it’s one of those brain-stopping moments so the first thing I do is try to get beyond the “Whoa!!” stage. Then I try to decelerate the brain because it goes into overdrive. And when I can finally get it settled down and partially coherent, I notate the idea. Ideas for me have to simmer for awhile. Sometimes they start like Misfit McCabe with a dream and are nearly intact, but other times it is the whisper of an idea and I have to let it percolate and mature. Some don’t mature, and others do.

3. Where is the most unusual place you scribbled down something you needed to remember? (mine was on the back of a book of matches).

LK: I’ve used napkins, I think, but they are not that unusual. A drink coaster once or twice, but most of the time I note things in my mind and then put it in the computer when I have a chance. If the idea sticks around, then it’s worth exploring. If it disappears before I can get it notated, then it probably wasn’t the right idea for me.

4. How valuable do you think critique groups are? Can you tell us if you have one?

LK: I think critiques definitely add value to the process. Without gaining feedback on the work at hand, you lose a perspective or multiple perspectives which could aid you in making your work better. Working with a group can be wonderful, and it can also be challenging. A group has members that are at varying levels, and if you have the most experience, you end up being the teacher and don’t grow as much as you could should you be in a group where your abilities are on par with or even below the other members. That’s not to say you can’t gain in both instances, but usually in the first, you’re giving more than you’re taking away. Also, there is the issue of time, whether the group is online or in person, etc. One of the most invaluable experiences I’ve had as a writer was the writing class I took when writing Misfit McCabe. It was run very much like a critique group and each person turned in two pages each class and they were read aloud by the designated reader (who wasn’t a writer). In this way, the same voice read all of the pieces, you were forced to listen for the nuances, and where the reader stumbled (time to rewrite), then the class would comment and the teacher would sum up. Hearing the work read aloud is invaluable—especially by someone who has not read it before. I think it is important to find a group that has the same values you are looking for as well. I have heard horror stories about some groups where the members are vicious about the writing. There isn’t any need for that.
I currently do not have an in person critique group, but belong to one online, although I have not been active with the group of late because of time constraints. I rely heavily on people I trust to read and critique my work, who will give me honest feedback and tell me where the writing needs to be tweaked, what works, and what doesn’t.

5. What is the best thing about writing for you?

LK: The moments. There is so much I love about writing. The creation, the getting to know the characters, figuring out the plot, but the best is the moments. The moments during the creation phase when the story starts moving in a direction you hadn’t thought of, and wouldn’t have taken it. The moments during the revision & editing phases where tightening a sentence or adding two words create an additional layer of meaning for the reader. And finally, the moments when the reader connects to the words on the page (and hopefully tells you) and knows what your character is feeling because they have felt the same.

6. Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? I know some writers need their chocolate before they sit down or their cup of coffee or glass of wine, how about you?

LK: I used to be a lot more persnickety about my writing habits than I am now. The only thing that I think I can say is mandatory, outside of my characters talking to me, is something to drink by my side, usually hot tea which cools and goes stone cold as I’m in the middle of working through a scene. But I drink it anyway.

Lk, I’d like to sincerely thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. You are extremely talented and an inspiration for me.

LK: You are so kind. Thank you very much for allowing me to participate in this interview.

Is there a piece of advice you’d like to give before you leave?

LK: Believe in yourself and keep writing. Even if what you write is crap, let it pour out on to the page, because bad writing can be fixed, but no writing cannot. And don’t be afraid to stretch yourself. Only by stretching ourselves can we find out what we are capable of and it strengthens our abilities.

LK Gardner-Griffie – Author of Misfit McCabe & Nowhere Feels Like Home
2 Time Pearson Prize Teen Choice Award Winner
Preview Misfit McCabe / Preview Nowhere Feels Like Home

Visit me at Griffie World
Where in the World is Misfit McCabe?
Follow me on Twitter: @lkgg

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