How did you become a writer?
I’ve always been an avid reader, but I suppose I became a writer in the 3rd grade, writing limericks for my favorite teacher. As a teacher myself years later, my favorite thing to teach was writing. I learned pretty quickly that the easiest way to teach writing was to model for students using my own writing and my own writing process. That meant I basically had to be a writer, in some sense. When we made the decision for me to stay home with our babies and take a break from teaching, I just knew I wanted to write a book. So I did, in between diaper changes and dishes and feedings. Writing keeps me sane.
What inspires you to write?
Incredible people and their stories inspire me to write. Good books inspire me to write. People I love inspire me to write. I think the thing I love most about writing is that good writing and good books connect people, create a crossroads of sorts where people can meet on common ground, and then leave not quite the same as they were before. My greatest hope is that the children (and grownups!) who read my books see a little of themselves in my characters, but also learn from those characters and gain a sense of empathy for people who lead different lives than their own.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Some of my characters are based on people I know in real life, their best attributes, their little quirks. Sometimes a character is a mixture of a few real people, others are completely invented to serve a kind of purpose to the story. As for plot, well, I’d be lying if I said that my plot ended up exactly as I thought it would when I set out. Sometimes my characters led me to places I didn’t know I wanted or needed to go. Sometimes they disappointed me and made poor choices, but I think in those instances they really show what it means to be human. Oftentimes, those little plot twists came to me in the weirdest places: the shower, the car, after I’ve already turned the light off for the night. But it’s always a fun surprise when that happens.
Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?
There are hard days in writing, where I feel like nothing’s working or I have nothing to say. It’s discouraging to receive rejections and negative (or no) feedback. Those days I have had to just step back, gain some distance from my work, read a good book or do some exercise. Almost every time I’ve done this, I have been able to get back on track in a few days or so, but it’s always hard to sit down and start again.
What are your current/future projects?
I’m hoping to get my middle grade historical fiction, Hand in Hand, published this year, and I have another contemporary middle grade novel in the revising stage. They are so different, but they both taught me so much about writing, especially writing for younger readers. I also keep a personal blog, where I share about parenting and all things literary-what I’m reading, what I’m writing, what I’m learning in the process. And later this year, I’m hoping to begin work on a YA novel that I’ve had floating around in my head for some time now.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read a lot. Read a lot in the genre you want to write. Read a lot outside your preferred genre. Write a lot. Write about whatever you want, just put the pen to the paper. I always say write by hand first. There’s just something that happens in your brain when you write by hand, more magic comes out without worrying about pressing the right key on the keyboard. My best writing is done by hand first. Also, I like to read over what I wrote the day before and clean it up, mechanically, before I begin the next part. It helps me focus and saves time on editing later.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?
Instagram is my favorite platform: https://www.instagram.com/andbabymade4reads/
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/andbabymade4/
And you can always find me on my blog: www.andbabymade4.com