Category Archives: superstitions

Interview with Helene Boudreau: Author of Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings

Hi Hélène, thank you so much for agreeing to participate in my first ever blog interview. I’d like to start by introducing you to my readers. Hélène Boudreau is the author of Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings. She writes fiction and non-fiction for kids and lives in landlocked Ontario, Canada but spends summers at her seaside childhood home on the Atlantic Ocean.

Hélène’s book was just launched on December 1st and is now available everywhere books are sold.

Okay Hélène, let the interview begin.

Can you tell us a little about Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings?

Thanks so much for having me! Here’s the description from the back of the book:
First zit. First crush. First…mermaid’s tail?
If Jade hadn’t been so clueless, she might have seen it coming. But really, who expects to get into a relaxing bathtub after a stressful day of shopping for tankinis and come out with scales and a tail?
Most. Embarassing. Moment. Ever.
Jade soon discovers she inherited her mermaid tendencies from her mom. But this revelation raises a serious question: if Mom was a mermaid, how did she drown?
Jade is determined to find out. But how does a plus-sized, aqua-phobic, mer-girl go about doing that, exactly? And how will Jade ever be able to explain her secret to her best friend Cori, and her crush, Luke?
This summer is about to get a lot more interesting…

What inspired the idea for the book?

Growing up, my dad used to take us for boat rides from the Atlantic Ocean, through a canal, and into the fresh water lakes of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. We had to get through a set of boat locks en route and I often wondered if the purple jellyfish in the ocean knew about the white jellyfish in the lake. It amazed me that two totally different underwater worlds could be separated by just a mile-long canal. That was the inspiration for the mer-world in this book.

The main character, Jade, came from conversations I had with my daughters after reading Mélanie Watt’s picture book ‘Scaredy Squirrel’. The book is about a neurotic squirrel who’s afraid of everything. We were getting a bit silly, talking about birds that were afraid of flying or fish that were afraid of swimming; which led to the idea of an aqua-phobic mer-girl. It just seemed like such a ridiculous idea that I just had to see where it led. Little did I know; it would lead to this book!

How long did it take you to write the book?

I wrote the story over two National Novel Writing Months (NaNoWriMo) as a matter of fact. The first time (in Nov ’07) I wrote about 30, 000 words. The second time (in Nov ’08) I finished it and began revising. I kept on revising until I signed with my agent in June ’09 and until I signed with my publisher in Oct ’09 and then revised some more until it finally went to press in August ’10. So, in total, I think it was close to a three year process.

I’m always curious about other writer’s journeys to publication. Can you tell us how long you spent querying? Did you receive immediate interest or did it take a while for an agent to request your manuscript?

I began querying agents with this project in March of ’09 but that was after spending a full ten months querying another project with no success. By the time I signed with my agent, Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency in June ’09, I had sent out about 113 queries (you can see my query dissected on the Guide to Literary Agents blog)over a twelve month period. Once Lauren started submitting my book to publishers it was surprisingly quick (to me!); it took only about six weeks until we had an offer from Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky.

I was so used to waiting that it seemed like a blink of an eye!

What genre is your book?

I’d describe it as a light-hearted contemporary fantasy. With a dash of Epsom salt.

Do you have any other books in the works?

The second volume of my chapter book series Red Dune Adventures / Nimbus Publishing will be published in spring/ 2011. It’s called Water Hazard and it’s an eco-adventure mystery for 6-9 year olds. I also have a picture book coming out with Candlewick in 2013 but that’s still in the early stages.

What is your favorite time to write?

I have two little chicklets, 7 and 9 years-old, and you would think my best writing time would be when they’re at school but it’s actually when we’re all at home or at the library together; usually while they’re doing their homework or reading. It’s so nice to work alongside one another, taking breaks to ask questions or to crack jokes. I get a lot of inspiration for my writing from conversations with my girls.

Do you have a favorite writing space?

I work from a laptop in various places around the house. I work on my treadmill desk for part of the day, the kitchen counter for a little while or parked on the couch if I feel like putting my feet up. I like the flexibility of being able to move around.

If you could offer a fellow writer advice what would it be?

Foremost; read, read, read/ write, write, write/ revise, revise, revise.

Then eat chocolate and repeat/ repeat/ repeat.

It’s really a combination of staying on task, working really hard, not being afraid to write junk during your first draft, revising until the cows come home, asking for help when you need it, and believing in yourself.

I have always loved mermaids. I especially loved the movies Splash and Aquamarine. Do you hope to see your book on the big screen?

I think most writers see their characters in their heads and can fully imagine them on the silver screen. That would be a lovely dream come true! Equally thrilling is to get to ‘hear’ your characters, which I have the pleasure of doing since Dreamscape Media has produced the audiobook of Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings. In fact, they’re doing a giveaway of three autographed copies until December 20th if you LIKE their fan page on Facebook. Jen Taylor does an AMAZING job as Jade. See for yourself; you can listen to the first chapter right here!

I love the cover of your book. Were you involved in the selection of the book cover?

Thankfully, no. The fabulously talented design team at Sourcebooks deserves all the credit there. I would have come up with something far dorkier and much less awesome. I love it, too!

I always love to see who authors thank in the acknowledgement section of the book. Is there anyone special that you thanked?

There are so many people who helped me shape this book into its final form so acknowledgements are always so hard for me. It’s impossible to name everyone and I end up having to be vague and utterly uncharming.

I dedicated the book to my agent, though. Because she laughed in all the right places.

Will you be doing any book signings?

Mostly in Canada but I can send signed bookplates to bookstores or book clubs. We have the technology! 

Hélène, thank you so much for stopping by. I’m sure your book will be a huge success. I have already added it to my Christmas wish list. Speaking of wish lists, what books are you looking forward to reading?

Thanks so much for adding Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings to your Christmas list! I’m really looking forward to reading my fellow Sourcebooks author, Kari Townsend’s The Samantha Granger Experiment and my friend Marina Cohen’s Mind Gap, Natalie Hyde’s Saving Armpit and Mahtab Narsimhan’s The Deadly Conch

One more question before you go. I see you are a fellow lover of chocolate. If you can have anything dipped in chocolate what would it be?

Any kind of fruit: strawberries, cherries, pineapple…SO yummy. And it can be any kind of chocolate, too. Toblerone, Cadbury, melted chocolate bunny—I’m not picky.

Okay, I lied, one more. I assume every writer has a favorite word. My favorite word is BELIEVE. What is your favorite word?

Dinglehopper. It can stand in for so many things!

I think my first blog interview was a success. Helene’s answers were AWESOME! Make sure you add her book to your wish list. I can’t wait to read all about Jade. Leave a comment and let me know how you think the interview went.

You can find Hélène on Twitter, Facebook and on her Website.

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Why I am Your Dream Client:(Info I can’t include in a query or bio)

A good query will pique an agent’s interest and hopefully prompt them to request more. A bio will give an agent a glimpse of who you are. The social media networks will allow an agent to get an even better grasp on a potential client, (what they look like, what family and friends say about them, what their interests are). Today’s post is meant to be fun yet informative. Currently, I have three partials out there swimming in the sea of possibility. I have decided to list ten reasons why I think I would be a dream client just in case one of those agents decides to check out my blog. What would you tell an agent about yourself if you could?

1. I LOVE constructive criticism. I am completely aware that I will never reach my full potential unless I am willing to listen to what others have to say. I do not view constructive criticism as an attack. If I had nothing more to learn, I would already have many published books under my belt. Note to other writers- Don’t respond immediately to constructive criticism. You are more apt to respond negatively within minutes than you are if you give yourself a few hours, even a few days.

2. I will never attack you via the internet. I won’t promise I will always agree with what you have to say but it is not my style to throw your name out into cyberspace to “get back” at you.

3. I am not trying to be the next J.K. Rowling, I am trying to be me. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t love to become as successful as a lot of today’s popular authors, I am saying I won’t try and ride on anyone else’s coattails. I want my work to be my own. I’d rather start a trend than follow one.

4. I am good at public speaking. Of course I get the jitters when standing in front of a group of people but the audience would never know.

5. I can get along with anyone. I think everyone has a story to tell. My motto is – look for the good within every person you meet and you might be surprised how your life changes. If you can’t find any good then you have a muse for evilness.

6. I will always give it one-hundred and ten percent. I want to be great at anything I do, not because I want to be better than anyone else, I just want to be the best of myself.

7. I have a fun sense of humor. Often, I connect with others based on sense of humor. I’d rather laugh at myself than at someone else.

8. I won’t pretend to know your job.

9. I have a trunk full of stories waiting to come to life. I don’t want to be a one trick pony.

10. I am LOYAL. I won’t look for every opportunity to get rid of you. If there was a problem I felt needed to be addressed, I would come to you first.

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Who Will You Thank?

I love when I finish a book for many reasons but today I will only discuss one of the reasons. You would think the first thing I would do after finishing a book would be reflect, but I don’t do that until after I have read the acknowledgements. I guess you could say I’m a bit corny. I won’t allow myself to read the acknowledgements until I have finished the book (I’m not somebody that looks ahead to find out what’s happening either. I like waiting).
Once I know I have completed reading I race to that page where the author does some of his or her own reflecting. I love to see who they have thanked and why. I also gain valuable information such as who the author’s agent is. Reading an acknowledgement allows me to daydream of what my own would look like. Who would I thank? What agent’s name will be listed? What interesting facts about myself would I like to share?
I thought about writing a mock acknowledgement on this blog (I was very tempted) but decided not to in fear that doing so would somehow jinx me (yes, I’m a bit superstitious).
I recently was given a Kindle for my birthday and my first thought was… will there still be an acknowledgement section? I still don’t know because I haven’t jumped ahead to see.
Reading that short paragraph at the end assures me that all authors have someone who helped them along the way, someone who encouraged them, someone who believed in them, someone who wasn’t afraid to critique them and finally someone who helped turn their dream into a reality. They were where so many of us still are. Seeing that they made it allows us to hope one day we will too.
Do you read the acknowledgements? What do you like the most about them? Have you ever thought of who you would thank?

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Successful Writing Careers and Intuition

Have you ever wondered if Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Myer, Suzanne Collins (insert whichever wildly successful author here) knew they were on the brink of something before their success erupted? Did they have a feeling that life was about to change?
These questions circulate my mind because I have an inner feeling that my writing career will eventually take off. I am not saying that I will become the next big thing(althtough I do hope to be). I am not delusional. I am not psychic. The feeling I have is not hope (however, I have plenty of that). It is not desire. It’s something else.
I have watched screenwriters, actors and producers accept awards and say something along the lines of “A year ago, I was at home watching this show never dreaming I would be on it a year later.” Their statement would cause me to think, really?
I tend to think people do have an inner knowing. In many interviews you will see the question, “Did you ever imagine you would have this success?” We all want to know if they were feeling something we were or weren’t so we can closer examine exactly what it is that we feel.
I wouldn’t dare claim to be the best writer but my gut tells me I am on the verge of new beginnings.
Have you ever thought about this or am I the only one? Is it a sixth sense?

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Free Writing Conference-(Pass it on)

If you are a kidlit author, I have exciting news to share with you today. A bunch of talented writers have joined together and arranged to have a free (yes, I said free) writers conference online. Who are these brilliant writers? They are Elana Johnson, Casey McCormick, Shannon Messenger, Jamie Harrington and Lisa and Laura Roeker along with their web designer Jennifer Stayrook. These lovely ladies developed WriteonCon. It is their way of paying it forward. They recognized how difficult it is for many writers to attend conferences because of finances, family obligations and career demands, so they teamed up to bring a conference to us.

When? August 10-12th (Registration begins July 1rst).

Who will be there? An impressive list of industry professionals such as:

Michelle Andelman ( A literary agent for Lynn C. Franklin Associates).
Josh Berk(Author of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin and fellow Pennsylvanian).
Catherine Drayton (a well sought after literary agent for Inkwell Management).
Daniel Ehrenhaft (author of more than a dozen books for children and young adults and editor for Harper Collins).
Lindsay Eland (author of the well-talked about Scones and Sensibility).
Author P.J. Hoover.
Mandy Hubbard (Author of Prada and Prejudice and literary agent for D4EO).
Mary Kole ( Literary agent at Andrea Brown Literary).
Author Lyndsey Leavitt.
Steven Malk (Literary agent for Writers House).
Mark McVeigh (founder of The McVeigh agency).
Author Jodi Meadows.
Kathleen Ortiz (Associate Agent and Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates).
Anica Rissi (Executive Editor at Simon Pulse).
Joanna Stampfel-Volpe (Full time agent for the Nancy Coffey Literary and Media Representation).
Suzie Townsend (Literary agent for Fine Print Literary Management).
Daisy Whitney (Media business extraordinaire).
Lisa Schroeder (Author).
This is an event you cannot miss. Further details can be found at WriteonCon.
I love to watch people pay it forward. Together, we can help each other become the best we can be.
Who are you looking forward to meeting?

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Linking It All Together

A chain is a series of things connected or following in succession. The size of the chain depends on the amount of links added.

Often a writer is a writer sooner than they recognize that is what they are. Writers are the school-aged children scribbling stories into a notebook. She is the young girl skipping rope trying to come up with a new song to impress her friends. He is the wild boy on the back of the bus chanting lyrics to get a reaction. Early on, they probably are not aware that they are adding the first link to a chain that may end up being very long.

Ask any successful writer what the secret to their success is and chances are they will tell you, diligence, determination and patience.

Let’s break those down. Diligence is an earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken. You cannot just state that you want to be a writer. You have to become a writer. There are roads albeit different ones for everyone that a writer must first travel before reaching their destination. When I recognized that writing was my passion the first thing I did was educate myself on the craft. I purchased books on writing. I enrolled in writing courses. I participated in critique groups. I attended seminars and I began journaling. Hence, adding links to the chain.

Learning brings enlightenment which connects to determination. Once you believe in yourself you will want others to believe in you too. If you want agents and editors to take you seriously you have to show them that you took the time to learn how to set up a manuscript, you listened when they gave advice on query writing and you didn’t bad mouth them when they rejected you. Rejection should be used to strengthen the chain.
Never let rejection weaken your links. There would be no determination without rejection.

Every time a query is sent, a contest is entered, a manuscript is forwarded, your chain gets longer and you come to realize that you have learned patience.
A chain can be too short but never too long. If you are diligent, determined and patient you will discover that you have a series of things connected that have been linked together. If we are lucky, others will take their links and interlock them with ours and together we will form something that is worth its weight in gold.

Have you started a chain? What links have you added to your writing career?
Do you have suggestions on how to free your writing of kinks?

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Superstition

I have always been the girl that is afraid to tell someone about the possibility of something happening before it actually is set in stone. I fear that once it is out there I will jinx myself and whatever I was hoping for will end up not happening.

Do you feel this way too?

Have you had an experience where you were super excited about something and you blabbed about it only to find out a short time later it fell through?

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