How do you come up with plots or characters for your books? What genre do you write in?
For many years, I taught high school and college writing. I’ve written and published poetry and taught creative writing, but I never considered writing a middle-grade book until a young lady I tutored got upset with me. She constantly needed assistance learning her vocabulary words for the week. I wrote creative sentences and left blanks for her to complete. One day, she insisted that I stop putting her name in the sentences. When I asked what I should use instead, the fruit was her response. FRUITLAND residents Coco Coconut and her sister Candace took my tutee’s place in the sentences. To date, I’ve self-published three ebooks set in FRUITLAND. More details can be found on my website: bookswithlessons.com. There you’ll find links to purchase ebooks as well as many backstories (Meet the Characters).
How did you get published?
Several years ago, a close friend encouraged me to take a self-publishing class. I hadn’t anticipated finding a course so easily. Thankfully, the next day when I went to a local library, I saw an ad for a free self-publishing course. That-two hour session transformed my life!
I had been working with an artist for years, but her educational goals got in the way. When I shared my notes from the class, she agreed that the time to complete my first book had finally occurred. We researched the best self-publishing platforms and selected Draft2Digital for the ebooks and IngramSpark for the first paperback.
If you could live in any book what would it be?
If I could live in any book, it would be in THE RELUCTANT BALLERINA, my Work In Progress (WIP). It’s set in a section of New York City where several of my special favorites are located: a natural food restaurant and an independent bookstore. Both are just down the street from the main character’s home.
What advice do you have for new writers just starting out?
New writers, please find at least one person to encourage you. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams and goals! Many people don’t have the courage to either write or publish their work; instead, they choose to discourage others. The same friend who encouraged me to self-publish also said that I should try Twitter, with the goal of finding additional tutoring clients. Although no tutoring clients surfaced, I found the #WritingCommunity and a #MG group. In fact, about ten members of the #WritingCommunuty inspired me so much that I dedicated FORMING NEW FRIENDSHIPS, my most recently published ebook, to them.
What helps me to stay motivated?
As I mentioned, I also tutor. Whether my tutees are 10 or 21, I focus on encouraging them. I’ve noticed that when each session concludes I feel rejuvenated, which helps me to stay motivated. Since I’m constantly editing their work, it is easy to transition to editing my own writing.