Did you always want to be an author? If so why? If not what did you want to be?
Yes, and no. In fifth grade, when I won an honorable mention in a county-wide contest for my story “What Can You Learn From A Giflyaroo” I firmly decided I wanted to be an author! But of course, Jr High and High School change things a lot for all of us. At different points during those seven years I wanted to be an actress, a veterinarian, a nurse (thank God I didn’t choose that path, cause I don’t like blood), a dentist, and a teacher. It was only after I had my first two kids and spent oodles of my time reading them the wonderful children’s literature that we have, did I come back to that yearning I had in fifth grade. I wanted to create magic and I haven’t stopped writing since!
What was your road to publishing like?
Like a lot of writer’s, I started my career writing picture books—stories that to this day, I still love even though I no longer write this genre. After writing for a year, I submitted one of my stories to the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and found out a few months later that I had won an honorable mention. The next year I submitted another story to that same contest and won third place! That was huge for me, a spark that I kept lit inside me to remind myself that maybe, just maybe, I could do it. After I had been writing for about two years, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel and fell instantly in love. Ahhh, the novel! Now, mind you, throughout all this time I was submitting to editors and agents, and acquiring a healthy stack of rejections--some form rejections and a few personal rejections…but rejections all the same. I was also getting involved in our local SCBWI chapter where I met wonderful editors and agents who were willing to see my work. Finally, I queried my current agent, who asked for the first thirty pages of my novel, loved it, and then asked to see more. Nine pages of revisions later, she said she’d love to take another look if I was willing to do the work to make it better. Of course, I was more than willing, so I revised and re-sent the manuscript. She asked to see my other work and so I sent her the first thirty pages of another novel I had been working on. She signed me two weeks later. We sent out that manuscript to around fifteen different editors who all politely rejected it. My wonderful, wise agent then pulled that story from submission and started to submit my THIRD book, Scones and Sensibility. Two weeks later it went to auction with a two-book deal.
What inspired you to write Scones and Sensibility?
A lot of middle grade/tween girl main characters seem to be a tad on the tom boyish side. This is wonderful and I’ve written characters like this as well. But obviously not all girls are tom boys, right? What about the girls who love ribbons and bows and adore fancy and elegant things? What about the ones who like to daydream and imagine they’re from another time and place? Thinking about this was what made Polly first come alive for me. Her “voice” came to me next, one afternoon when my daughter’s best friend was over playing. Her friend is very dramatic and expressive and hilarious and charming all at the same time. I imagined Polly speaking to her best friend (much like my daughter’s friend does) with her hand upon her heart declaring they were “kindred spirits forever.” Thus, Scones was born!
Most writers have a close friend and/or family member that gives them support and criticism. Do you have anyone like this in your life? If so how have they contributed to your writing?
My husband, along with my parents and my sisters, are by far my number one supporters and they have never once doubted that I would make it, though I myself did often. But none of these people are allowed to see my first draft—none of them! That task is for my two amazing online critique groups. These amazing writers give me the criticism I need to make my manuscripts publishable. They see beyond my attempts and draw out of me the best in my writing.
Many teens dream of becoming authors. What advice would you give to writing teens?
Write and read, read and write and don’t ever, ever stop! It’s only when you stop writing and submitting that you lose your chance for publication.
Would you rather see your book turned into a TV show or a movie?
I imagine it like the Anne of Green Gables mini-series. But if I had to choose between a TV show or a movie, I would rather have a movie!
If you could cast anyone to play your characters what would your dream cast be?
Hmmm….Dakota Fanning would be perfect for Polly, Liam Nieson would be a wonderful Papa, Mama would be played by the beautiful Ashely Judd, and Jena Malone would be the most amazing Clementine!
Which one of your characters do you identify with the most?
Most definitely, Polly! I am overly romantic and dramatic (though NOT to her extreme extent) and I often imagine and wish that I was born in a different time period. I also love English accents!
Besides writing and reading, what else are you passionate about?
My family! I love to read (obviously), bake, run, and I adore taking care of plants and animals…much to the dismay of my husband sometimes!
Are you working on anything new? If so, what and when can readers expect to see it in stores?
Well, I’m currently working on two manuscripts right now. They are both humorous middle grade/tween novels and I’m having fun writing both of them. The first has to do with omelets, monks, and the Virgin Mary and the other is about food because…well, all my books seem to have some kind of a food theme in them. I’m also whipping up an outline for a sequel to Scones in hopes that everyone will love it so very much I’ll need to write another!