Saturday, 31 October 2009

Thank you again

Well, my second interview has been posted. I think I can safely say that it was a great success. Thank you to Jan for allowing me to ask her the questions I did. I really do appreciate it.

Thank you, too, to the people who took the time to read the interview. I really appreciate you all. I'm getting the hang of this now.

I hope to see my followers and others here for my next interview.

Thank you again.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Interview with Jan Fields

It is my privilege to be able to post my interview with Jan Fields, Children's Author, ICL Instructor and Web Editor. I feel honored to know Jan, even if it is only through the medium of computers, message boards, and live chats. I hope you will enjoy reading my interview with Jan, and that you may learn just a little more about her.

Terrie: Please tell us something about yourself?

Jan: Something relevant or something weird? Let’s go with weird. I once rode on an elephant. I’ve also been licked in the face by a puma (it gives you a bad case of cat tongue burn). Oh, and I once almost drowned because a tall young woman was standing on my back in a pool (she was afraid of the water and I’m assuming she mistook me for a ladder.) How’s that for odd things?

Terrie: Where or how do you get your ideas for your books and stories?

Jan: At the idea store. Actually I’m not sure. A lot of times they originate from questions that come to me when I see something or read something that makes me think. For instance, I was dragging garbage cans out one day and noticed a spider had hung egg cases on one of them. I thought of how much trouble the spider had gone to in spinning this snug waterproof case, but then hung it on a garbage can – which seemed ironic. At any rate, thinking about egg cases and perception (my garbage can was her safe place) led to a story about a spider who won’t tell her neighbours what she’s spinning so they all guess based on their own perceptions of what is important. And that became “Spider’s Riddle” which eventually published in Spider magazine.

Terrie: You’ve adapted a few children’s favourites. Where did the inspiration come from to do these adaptions? From who’s POV were the adaptions written? And how many more do you plan to adapt?

Jan: Ah, the adaptations were all done as work-for-hire for an educational publisher. So the number that I’ll ultimately adapt is totally up to them. If I had to guess (and I love to guess) I would guess that I’ll probably do about a dozen ultimately. These were all classics and not necessarily children’s books, though I look for the things that the kids will most enjoy in each book and try to really stay true to that. For instance, Moby Dick and Great Expectations have parts that are laugh out loud funny and I wanted to make sure to keep that in my adaptation – that sense of surprise that makes a reader laugh. The point of view of the adaptations always match the point of view in the original.

Terrie: What drew you to the ICL and becoming an instructor with them?

I was a writer for a number of years before I had a computer so my “writing world” expanded hugely when I got online. I had been writing my own course material to teach writing at community colleges so I was familiar with teaching but I’d never considered distance learning. Still, online I “met” more and more people with experience either taking the Institute courses or teaching them and they raved about them. Also, I got married and had a child and found I couldn’t really keep teaching in the college setting but I wanted to keep that part of my life – the part where I pass on what I know. So ICL seemed a great outlet for that. I applied, was accepted…and the rest is history!

Terrie: What is the best and/or worst thing about being an instructor?

Jan: I learn a lot. My students bring a constantly fresh perspective to writing. There are plenty of things I teach them about getting published but they always teach me things about thinking…about approaching ideas. And many of them also teach me about the world since I have students all over the globe.

Terrie: How do you juggle your writing projects with your instructor commitments?

Sometimes not so well. I try to do my instructor commitments first and all my other writing projects after. Responding to students takes my best, more creative efforts so I
try to jump on that while I’m fresh. But it’s actually amazing because sometimes it seems I
couldn’t possibly add another thing to my work schedule, but then I do (because I’m not so
good at saying no) and yet everything still gets done. It’s kinda magic that way.

Terrie: I’m sure you’ve had many rejections in your writing career. How do you overcome the disappointment and go on to the next project?

Well, first I call the editor names. No, not really. Though …you know…they are making a mistake. I sulk a little but I have so many irons in the fire that I really cannot spare a lot of energy on getting too bummed. When I finish one project, I’m starting another before the first gets mailed out. Plus with all the commitments that come to me – there’s never really time to get too “blocked” or stopped in any way. I might take a couple hours off and watch “Bones” on TV while nibbling chocolate, but that’s really about all I can do.
Rejection still hurts, don’t get me wrong. I hate it. I want to sell everything first time out. I
really want kids to connect with my work and that doesn’t happen with it sitting on my hard
drive, but I’ve become a bit more accepting that everything happens in its time. For some of
my stuff, the right time hasn’t come yet.

Terrie: The writers market is a difficult one these days. Do you have any
suggestions for giving our work the “wow” factor? Anything that will make an editor read our work over someone elses?

Have fun. People forget to have fun when they’re writing. And new writers can be positively grim. They get really wrapped up in making their work “meaningful” and
therefore pick the grimmest stuff to write about sometimes. You know, I rarely shop for a
story by looking for the most dismal thing or the thing that assumes I need a good lecture –
and kids don’t either. If you have fun, you’ll help them have fun…and that’s something
editors look for.

Another important thing it to be careful who you’re connecting with. I see so many stories
where the mom is this amazingly fleshed out character with strong motivation and heroic
actions. And the kid is practically a cardboard cut-out marked “Fix me Mom.” Kids aren’t
looking for stories about mom. So editors aren’t looking for stories about mom. If you find
that your attention (as writer) shifts to the mom as soon as she walks into the story, you really
need to consider not letting her in at all. You have to relate to the young characters. If you
can’t, then your reader can’t either because young readers just aren’t going to connect with
the mom character.

Terrie: Thinking about your writing career, if you could do anything
differently, what would it be and why?

I would have stopped writing crap more quickly J. Actually, I don’t know. I’ve not been terribly focused in my career and that’s had an effect on how “successful” I am. I mean, I make a decent living on writing and related activities – but because my work is scattered over so much, I don’t have much celebrity, you know? But then, I suspect I’m probably not really the celebrity writer sort. I’m more of a workhorse. I do go work and it’s consistently good so a publisher can count on me, BUT I suspect I’m not really bestseller material. I sort of like the fickle writing life…though, you know…sometimes being a household word would be cool too.

Terrie: Have you ever been asked something about your writing (stories, books or career) that you really didn’t want to answer, but had to? If you have are you willing to share it, and tell us how you dealt with it?

No, I have no personal boundries so that isn’t likely to pop up J. I mean, folks have asked me things like, “Will you look at my book?” Or “I have this idea for a book you could write – wanna hear it?” And mostly I don’t. Well, that’s not totally true…I do look at people’s writing a good bit in a very cursory “this is why it’s not selling” kind of way. Folks rarely ask me twice. I suspect most people don’t really want to be told what’s actually wrong with something when they come up to a writer on the street – they want to be told something like, “This is too daring for publishers, that’s why they rejected it.” Or “You’re just too new and different.” And when the answer is “this really doesn’t work because of XYZ…no one seems to like that.” So I hate strangers popping up with “will you read my book” because I know they won’t like what they hear. Students and real beginning writers, on the other hand, they tend to actually take criticism and run with it so I love helping them. It’s just hard sometimes to tell which kind of person is asking and I’ve had folks pretty disgruntled with me before.

Terrie: You are the editor of Kids Writer Magazine. Do you write the articles for this magazine, or do others write them and you just edit them?

I used to write ALL of it. You wouldn’t believe how much I wrote for that thing. But over time, more and more folks have been willing to step up and help. And sometimes I beg friends. I am totally shameless about begging. I started KMW because I believed it was needed. Children’s magazine were a revelation to me when I was a kid – the idea of stories and articles that come to your house every month. That was like heaven! We couldn’t afford to subscribe but I read them at school and the library and I wanted subscriptions so much. I remember that excitement and how important they were to me. So I value them. But lots of people don’t value children’s magazines. They’re too ephemeral. They aren’t as “good” as books. But that’s not true. They’re amazing. And honestly, if you get a story in HIGHLIGHTS, it’s going to be seen by more kids than most kidlit bestsellers – if your goal is to be read by tons of kids, magazines are where it’s at. So I wanted to start an online magazine that showed magazine writers and magazines some respect. And I wanted to give the writers tools to help them meet the needs of editors. KMW can be a wicked time suck for me, but it’s important to me so somehow I always find time.

Terrie: If I remember correctly, you used to be a journalist. Why did you start writing books and stories for children?

Well, I’ll write anything for money J. Actually when I escaped from newspapers, I wrote for magazines. I wrote for the magazines that *I* was familiar with so that meant magazines my mom read. I’ve had stuff in craft magazines like Teddy Bear and Friends and National Doll World because my mom read those. I got stuff into Christian magazines because those were available at church. I went into magazine writing assuming that the way to do it was to get to know the magazine well, then write what they seemed to use – it was the only way I could figure to go about it. No one was there to give me hints. I was getting submission information off the masthead because I had no idea things like market guides existed.

Then, I began to do some parenting stuff (because I didn’t have any children. I find it so
much easier to be an expert parent when you don’t have kids J) and my craft stuff started
being more and more kid oriented (because I designed crafts to do with our church groups of
kids). I ended up writing some children’s church curriculum for a large Christian publisher. I
just kind of fell into these things. But I could see more and more of my work was relating to
kids. So I started really looking at kid magazines and that’s when they brought up all these
memories – and I started writing for them. And they bought the work or sent really nice
rejection letters (better than I deserved sometimes). But I brought the same technique I’d used
to sell to adult magazines – I read them like crazy and then started submitting. I do that
because I hate rejection and I seem to sell more when I start with the magazine and then

Now I also do work for hire. That again sort of fell in my lap – friends telling me about
openings. I applied. Now I do them. I like work for hire because it’s a sure paycheck and a short deadline. It’s easier for me to handle it when time is kept short.
Terrie: Thank you Jan for answering my questions. I really appreciate you giving of your time to do this. I hope my readers have found answers to some of the questions they might have, but didn't want to ask.
Thank you to my readers for visiting my interview today. I hope you have enjoyed your visit. I look forward to my next interview - details to follow.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

What Do you see out of your Writing Window?

Writers seem to enjoy talking about where they write, what their writing space looks like, and what computer system they like using, amongst other things.

Yes, I enjoy this subject too. I used to have a desk to write at, my writing space was filled with piles of books, papers, and other things writing. Now I have the end of my dining table, and no personal space to write. This is mainly due to a lack of space in our house. You can only put so much furniture in a shoe box, right?

Anyway, I didn't want to write about what my writing space looks like. I wanted to write about what I see out of the window while I'm writing. I am lucky enough to live in the country, so the views from all my windows are beautiful.

Those people who have been following my blog for a while may recognise this picture. I had it at the top of my blog until I decided to do a little decorating. Well, this was the view out of the window at my last house. Rather dark, rather misty, but beautiful all the same.

Now, when I look out of my window, I see a small pond with ducks peacefully gliding on its surface. I see trees and bushes surrounding the pond, and I see fields stretching far back.

At the moment, there is a group of water buffalo cows and a calf inhabiting the field directly behind our house. To think that in their natural surroundings these are wild animals, yet here they are so friendly. At times when I need to clear my head, all I need to do is to go and stand at the fence for a while. The buffalo are there to see what I am doing.

I'm lucky, I have a peaceful environment. I have the wildlife. I have the farm animals. But most of all, I have a beautiful view. What more can a writer want?

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


CONTACT: Terrie Hope, Children’s Author

For Immediate Release

Guest Author, Jan Fields at Terrie Hope’s Write What Your Heart Desires

Terrie Hope explores the written word through your heart desires at Come along with Terrie on her weekly chats such as “This Business Called Writing” and interviews of professionals in the trenches of writing for children.

Stop by Friday, October 30th and visit with Terrie’s guest author, Jan Fields. Jan will be checking-in throughout the day to chat and field any questions you may have.

Thank you in advance for your interest.


Saturday, 24 October 2009

Thank you

This post is just to say thank you to everyone who visited my blog yesterday to read my interview with Donna. I appreciate all the lovely comments left by those who chose to leave comments.

I will have a new interview up on friday the 30th October. Details to follow.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Interview with Donna McDine

Welcome to my first Author interview. I’m hoping this is the first of many to come. Thank you to Donna McDine for being my "guinea pig" for this project.

Please read through the interview, and feel free to leave any questions you have for Donna. She will be popping in throughout the day to answer questions.

Terrie: Please tell us a few things about yourself.

Donna: I am a wife, mother, and writer. Married for 20 years and raising now 14 and 11 year old daughters certainly has its roller coaster moments. Fortunate enough to work from home the last 11 years, first as an administrative assistant and since January 2010 as the Marketing Manager at Stories for Children Magazine, I cherish the moments I’m available for my girls, especially when they come home from school.

Terrie: Why and when did you start writing?

Donna: I first came across the Institute of Children’s aptitude test in 2006 and longing for something more fulfilling for a career I took the plunge, completed the test and mailed it in. I graduated in 2007 and haven’t looked back since. My first publishing credit was July 2007 with Stories for Children Magazine. Needless to say having VS Grenier offer me the marketing manager position definitely brought my writing career full circle.

Terrie: What genre do you like writing the most, and why?

Donna: At the beginning of my writing career I felt I wanted to write for the young adult, but my research and ideas lead me to the early reader and middle grade range. I’ve finally finished the first draft of my historical fiction manuscript and now I must get my editor hat on and begin the next task in accomplishing a finished manuscript for submission.

Terrie: What is your best age group to write for?

Donna: Hmm. This is hard to say. This may sound like I’m avoiding the question, but it depends what topic I’m brainstorming on. For example, for several of my non-fiction articles I originally envisioned them for the 12 plus range and after research and staying within the word count guidelines I find myself writing more in the 5-8 year old range.

Terrie: Is there any particular reason for this?

Donna: I believe this is the age range I’m most comfortable with.

Terrie: Thinking of books you've read, which one stands out, and why?

Donna: This is a tough one. I’ve read so many books over the years it truly is hard to pick one. So I’m going to name a few:

Victory by Susan Cooper. The author seamlessly transports the reader back and forth from current and past eras and you almost forget you are reading about two different main characters.

The Rock of Realm by Lea Schizas. I have never been one to pickup and enjoy a fantasy novel, but with the superb writing talent of Schizas I found myself mesmerized from the onset.

Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines by Beverly Stowe McClure. I’ve always been fascinated by history and McClure expertly brings you into this fascinating era. You can practically hear the echo of the cannons from within the caves, and the rustling of the crinoline skirts. Now that’s great writing.

Terrie: Is there another writer that you have aspired to be like, or have you always enjoyed your own unique writing style and methods?

Donna: I really can’t say who I’d aspire to be like without sounding like a stalker. LOL. With all seriousness, there are many who I admire especially with all the juggling they do with not only their writing careers, but always taking the time to help others. I’m not going to list names in fear of missing someone. And as my wise Nana used to say, “Be yourself my dear, no one else sees the world as you do, take your dream and soar.”

Terrie: If you were ever stranded on a deserted island, what are the three things you would like to have with you, and why are they important to you?

Donna: Husband, Nicole & Hayley, Graf Von Faber-Castell Pen & Refills, a trunk load of writing pads, and my best girlfriend. Why? Without family I’m not whole, without my writing I may explode, and without my best girlfriend I may become an emotional mess. I’ve gone outside the guidelines (and I know in the writing world that’s a no-no), but my choices are imperative.

Terrie: If you hadn't become a writer is there anything else you would have wanted to do?

Donna: Web design.

Terrie: You started a writers newsletter. What inspired you to take on this project, and what are you looking for as contributions to the newsletter?

Donna: In the midst of attending the 2008 Muse Online Writers Conference I began to learn about platform. One of the main points of platform is to get your name known before your book deal. I was then inspired to publish a monthly newsletter of interviews from the children’s publishing industry and include one book review (normally tied into one of the interviews), proclaim your successes column, and a submission based Reflections or Dreams column. This is a non-paying market at this time. Submissions can be either fiction or non-fiction up to 500-words on any aspect of one’s life whether it be writing or not.

Terrie: Can you give us one highlight of your writing career?

Donna: One highlight? What’s with the tough questions? Not to sound like a cliché, but each publishing success holds a special meaning. I’ll narrow it down to three: Entering the 77th Annual Writer’s Digest Contest and placing 12th in the Children’s/Young Adult category; Meeting Lynda Burch, publisher of Guardian Angel Publishing at the 2008 Muse Online Writers Conference and submitting my Writer’s Digest winning manuscript The Golden Pathway and have it accepted by GAP resulting in my first book contract, and unexpectedly being offered the Marketing Manager position at Stories for Children Magazine by VS Grenier.

Terrie: Is there anything else you've never been asked, but would love to tell others?

Donna: Go with your inspiration and instinct. If you feel something is NOT right steer clear, if something FEELS right, go for the adventure and bloom!

Terrie: Donna, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I’m sure my readers will have questions for you. I would like to take the opportunity to wish you great success with your new book.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

NaNo, I'm looking forward to it

Well, November is rapidly approaching, and so is NaNoWriMo - or maybe better known to some as National Novel Writers Month. Its the month we all go crazy, and our keyboards don't know what has hit them.

I did NaNo for the first time last year. I really thought I was mad - 50,000 words in 30 days. You have to be totally crazy to write 50,000 in one month, right? Well, not altogether. Look at NaNo as fun. I hear that maniacal laughter.

Believe me, it is fun. Its also hard work. But just think of the end result. You could be sitting with the first draft for a long thought up novel by the time you pull yourself away from the computer at midnight on the 30th november. On the otherhand, you could be sitting with a load of trash, that is only fit for the shredder, or the delete button.

But whatever the end result, you can look back on the month with a smile on your face, knowing that you have put all of 50,000 or more or less words on the computer. Give yourself a pat on the back, walk away from the computer, and give your life back to your family.

Now what about cleaning, meals, drinks and all the other things that go with family life? Well, the better half will just have to take your place. Afterall, it is only 30 days, {maniacal laughter again}. The rest of the family will just have to fend for themselves. You will probably look like you haven't slept in days, your eyes will be square from looking at the computer screen, and you and your keyboard will be the greatest of buddies - you'll wonder how you managed without it at your fingertips until now.

And, once you've stocked the freezer with ready meals, filled the water bottles, done all the other preparation needed to get going on NaNo, you will be wondering when you are going to edit your masterpiece. Well, wonder no more. Just send that inner editor on a 30 day vacation. Throw him or her out and lock the door. There is no need to do any editing for the whole 30 days. That comes later.

And once you've finished NaNo, what are you going to do? Well, if you are lucky enough to be on the ICL Writers Retreat {biased here}, you will have your fellow NaNoers to share with. There will no doubt be a post NaNo thread where you can get over your no more NaNo blues.

Now, lastly, for those new NaNoers. If you are worried, don't be. You are amongst over 100,000 other people writing those, ummm, words in 30 days. We are all in it together. You are not alone. And you will look back at the end of the month, and see your achievements.

Roll on November,and let's have some fun.

Monday, 19 October 2009


CONTACT: Terrie Hope, Children’s Author

For Immediate Release

Guest Author, Donna McDine at Terrie Hope’s Write What Your Heart Desires

Terrie Hope explores the written word through your heart desires at Come along with Terrie on her weekly chats such as “This Business Called Writing” and interviews of professionals in the trenches of writing for children.

Stop by Friday, October 23rd and visit with Terrie’s guest author, Donna McDine. Donna will be checking-in throughout the day to chat and field any questions you may have.

Thank you in advance for your interest.


Saturday, 17 October 2009


I will have an interview with Donna McDine, childrens author, posted here on Friday 23rd October. Please come along and read what she has to say.

Also watch this space for more information about the interview.

Friday, 16 October 2009

This business called Writing

One thing I've noticed since I've been on the Writing boards is the passion everyone has for writing. Whether we are amongst the lucky ones who get plenty of time to write, or amongst those of us who have to catch a few minutes here and there, we all have the same goal. To write.

We all have our favorite subjects, well I write whatever comes to mind. We have our favorite age groups. Umm, again I write for any age group. I don't know if this is a problem, I just don't want to restrict myself to something I don't necessarily want to do.

But the one problem that I think many writers have is loneliness. Writing is a lonely business. Yes, we can get ideas from other people, we can find someone to type up our story, if we so choose. We can get others to read our master piece. Yet, at the end of the day, it is ours, and we have to put our stamp on it. That means taking that time to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard. Most of all, we need to concentrate and get the best story we can from that idea that came to us in the middle of the night as the house was still.

The upside of that loneliness is the end result. Once we've put those words on paper, or the computer, we've edited, taken out all the trash, and polished up that piece that we've worked so hard on, we put it together to send out to our chosen publisher for possible inclusion in a magazine.

Having said that, can anyone understand the frustration we have while we wait for news on the fate of our baby? This is a real test of our patience. But, somehow we do it, and finally that letter comes through the door. And if we are amongst the lucky ones, the letter is an acceptance. If not, it is getting over the rejection, picking ourselves up, and starting again.

This is a lonely business, it is sometimes a hurtful business. But it is a rewarding business. To my fellow writers on the boards, we are all in this together. And while we sit alone at our desks, kitchen tables, or wherever we churn out those stories, we can remember that we have support from the friends, though virtual, that we have made on the message boards, oh and the critique and writing groups that we may have been lucky enough to join.

Until next time, happy writing, and wishing you all success.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Distractions in Writing

I sit at the computer and look at the screen. I want to put words on paper, but they are just not there. The phone rings, my son wants my attention, the dogs bark, distractions that take me away from the computer, away from the blank page, away from the writing.

Even adding a post to my blog is difficult. I am frustrated, even annoyed that I am unable to write. It is all I want to do, and there are so many things that take me away from writing. I so want to have a story ready for publication, maybe, hopefully one day soon I will have the success I crave.

It is good to know there is such a great support network on the message boards I frequent. These too are another distraction, but even if I am not writing a story or doing some research, or some other writing related exercise, when I'm touring the boards I am constantly reminded of why I am there.

I know that one day I will take the plunge and submit that story or article, I will sit and wait for the reply, hoping that it will be good news. I will one day be published in a magazine. I will be happy.

And, when that day arrives, I will have time to write, research, edit, read, and enjoy the one thing I love to do.

And while I ponder the day I will be able to send a story for possible publication, I think back to a week or so ago, when my college diploma came through the door. It is great to get the diploma, but it will be even better when I get that acceptance letter through the door.

I know that day will come, and I look forward to it.