What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
I am a retired teacher who was inspired by my students and my grandchildren to write two children’s books– AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch’s Tale http://amzn.to/YJVVOk , a children’s picture books and THE TANGRAM ZOO and Word Puzzles Too! (second edition) http://www.amazon.com/The-Tangram-Zoo-Word-Puzzles/dp/1470124777 , a hands-on activity book, were published in 2013.
I wrote AMAZING MATILDA to inspire kids to never stop trying to do the things they really want to do. This is a valuable lesson to share in an age when instant gratification is the norm.
THE TANGRAM ZOO integrates math, language arts and science in a hands-on way to provide hours of creative learning and fun for kids, whether in school or at home with the family. The rhyming text makes reading fun and provides facts about the animals in the TANGRAM ZOO. Readers are encouraged to create their own tangram creatures and write riddles to add to the zoo.
Both children’s books make excellent additions to the elementary classroom. They can also provide a venue for grandparents and other adults to spend quality time with the young people in their lives. Children need interested adults to inspire, to encourage and to simply have fun with them.
I’m currently working on my first book for YA and adult readers. The genre is general/literary fiction. Its title is PURE TRASH, The Story. You can read an author interview and prereleased excerpt of the story at http://4writersandreaders.com/2013/02/21/the-next-big-thing/ It’s a short story (5,000 words) about Shawn Daniels, a boy growing up in rural New England in the 1950s. His dad is an alcoholic and the children in this family, living in abject poverty, are the butt of the town’s jokes. This short story will be released in late June or early July. PURE TRASH will also be a chapter in my first novel, planned for publication in late 2013. The upcoming novel: PURE TRASH, The Whole Story follows Shawn Daniels from early childhood until he leaves home to join the U.S. Army in 1963.
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
YES! I’m currently working on PURE TRASH, both the short story and the novel. I also write other short stories and poetry as well as posts for my website/blog.
Do you work with a writing/critique group?
I work with several of my teacher, writer and librarian friends. Also, there are several people I’ve met through social media groups who have been very helpful, providing critique, insight, expertise and mentoring.
Can you remember your first reading book?
Many. Growing up, books and magazines were welcome friends at home and Saturday visits to the local library were a family affair. I always checked out my limit. Fairy tales, fables and nursery rhymes were top favorites. Madeleine and Curious George also come to mind.
Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is our chosen treat?
While writing? NO. When I take my breaks? OH, YES! Potato chips, dried fruits and mixed nuts are my snacks of choice. I limit myself to one bag of chips a month and dole out dried fruit and nuts in tiny condiment cups. I also take breaks to exercise or simply to walk through the wooded trails on our 37-acre farmstead. I’m a nature lover and a self-proclaimed conservationist.
Tidy desk or bombsite? Describe your writing area with us?
Bombsite is the weekday norm. Four piles of papers (pending, blog posts, current book club read with a list of ‘want-to-read’ books and authors and research tidbits and updates on monarch butterflies). And, of course, there’s the PURE TRASH file folder. On Fridays (sometimes Saturday mornings) I like to sort through the accumulated piles of paperwork, prioritize and file.
My writing nook is at the entry of our home. It’s my job to stoke the wood fire to keep the Maine chill at bay from September until June or July. My husband calls me “Fire Woman.” My nook is always a cozy place. My desk is near the west side window, so I can keep an eye on the barn, a small garden and the abundance of wildlife in flight and afoot. A small bookshelf with all of my writing resources and supplies is an easy reach, resting under a large framed oil on canvas sea scape. A world globe sits comfortably on the top shelf. Desk and chair are my domain and an extra recliner and footstool stand at the ready for reading time. Life is good!
Are you published in the traditional manner or self-published? Share your journey?
The first edition of THE TANGRAM ZOO and Word Puzzles Too! was published by a small regional press in 1996. I had no control over the process or the product and was disappointed when I received my first published copy (no proof provided for me to review). Later, the rights were returned to me and I decided to self-publish. I had been doing research on self-publishing for several years. I felt that I was well-prepared with years of desktop publishing behind me. As I soon learned, that was not the case. I had plenty to learn and am still working my way through the learning curve of publishing. However, there are so many wonderful resources and helpful contacts that are only a click away in today’s amazing internet communities available to authors. I chose to go with CreateSpace, an Amazon affiliate and am pleased with the results. Both of my children’s books were self-published as paperbacks in 2012. AMAZING MATILDA was also published in digital form in December. In fact, 2012 was an amazing year for me.
And let’s hope the same in 2013, for you!
Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing journey?
It’s nearly impossible to limit it to three, but here are my quick picks. Beatrix Potter and all of her wonderful TALES for illustrating and self-publishing. I wrote, illustrated and self-published both of my children’s books. And, like Beatrix, I’m a conservationist as well. Then, there’s Stephen King’s On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft, a gem deserving to be well-worn by writers of any genre. Finally, Eugenia Price and her Savannah Series gave me a deep appreciation for the beauty and poignancy of prose. Needless to say, every author/book that I read influences me in some way.
What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript?
Don’t be in a hurry to publish. Take your time with every draft and be sure to save them all. Take a break from what you’re working on and let it rest for a while. There are plenty of other things that need attention in the meantime. Housework, gardening, time with family and friends. Remember to get plenty of input―comments, critiques, etc. from as many sources as possible. Listen to them, learn from them. Then, go with your gut.
That gut instinct is so important. Great advice.
If the movie rights to your upcoming novel ‘PURE TRASH’ are purchased, who would like to play your main characters?
Sean Penn as Shawn’s lazy, abusive, beer loving father.
Jodi Foster as Shawn’s mum.
Ooh, good combination of characters.
I was on my way to the (supermarket) when… Do you have a tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?
I was on my way to the brook with the grandkids. They were off to sail the wooden boats that Grampa had just finished helping them build. I had sewn the canvas sails. It was a sunny spring day and the breeze made our half mile hike a treat after more than a week of rain. We had the boats tied to long strings so that the raging brook wouldn’t carry them off to sea or to some godforsaken swamp along the way. I had made little bracelets with slip knots on the end of the strings to keep the boats in tow. Ceilia was having a grand time sailing her boat along the pebbled shore. Gage, the proverbial adventurer, insisted that ‘bracelets’ were for girls as he jumped from rock to rock in the middle of the brook in his water shoes. String dangling from the tips of his fingers, Gage insisted that he was not a girl. Soon, his boat went sailing out of sight. Not to be outdone, our wailing Gage, a quick thinker, grabbed a tree branch and was off on a race with the swirling spring waters. He soon recaptured the wayward vessel and returned to the shore smiling like the Cheshire Cat. “Grandma,” he said, “you were right. Bracelets aren’t just for girls, they’re for boats, too!”
What a wonderful tale! Grandma’s are to be listened too!
Bette’s website/blog http://www4writersandreader.com
Find Bette on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Bette-A-Stevens-Official-Fanpage/432247843452956
Great to have you, Bette.