Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Larissa Hardesty

Welcome, everyone, to another Friday Feature!  I so love finding out more about the writers behind the blog, and the writing inside the writers!  And Larissa has a rockin' blog.  I first bumped into Larissa at Verla's blue boards.  She is genuinely honest and kind, and gives great feedback.  Everyone make sure to leave her a question or comment here, before checking out her blog on the way out!

Welcome, Larissa!  Thanks so much for being here!  Why don't you start by telling us a bit about yourself.

Thanks so much, Heather!  This is lots of fun! :)  I was born in South Dakota and raised in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, which explains why I now live in Florida. LOL.  I moved here to attend Rollins College, where I received my BA in music and elementary education.  I taught first grade for four years, then left teaching to stay home with my babies.  I have three children, now 7, 5, and almost 3.  Four years ago, I became a Creative Memories Consultant (a home-based scrapbooking business), and was asked to direct the children's handbell choir at my church.  The following year, we added an adult handbell choir.  Last year, I went back to teaching at the preschool level, and this year, I was asked to teach Sunday School, as well.  Oh, yeah!  And I write!  

So, my life is pretty boring. NOT.

Fun fact: I met my husband at Disney World while on a family vacation during my senior year of high school.  He was working for his dad at the silversmith booth in the Marketplace.  I spent the whole vacation with him, and he was part of the reason I decided to come to Florida for college.  We got married two weeks after I graduated, and our ten-year anniversary is coming up.

Larissa--what an interesting life!  What are you currently working on in your writing life?

I'm as eclectic in my writing as I am in life (did you see my bio?).  I have a MG Paranormal mostly complete, a YA paranormal started, a MG fantasy partially done, and a few picture book manuscripts to round it out.  Not to mention my idea file...

The one I'm working hardest on right now is the MG Paranormal.  LURE is about a thirteen-year-old boy who hates to read, and what happens when a book starts literally taking over his town.  It just needs a few more tweaks, and I'm going to start sending it out.  I recently won a local writing competition with it, too!  Yay, validation!

Very cool, Larissa!  I think I saw you float a query at Verla's for LURE.  It looked awesome!  What made you start to write seriously?

I had an idea for a picture book, and I decided if I was going to do this, I would do it right.  I joined SCBWI and went to my first conference that same week.  (That picture book will probably never see the light of day, by the way).

What stage are you at, currently, in your journey toward publication? And--how is that going for you?  Has anything surprised you about this stage?

I am currently finishing up revisions in order to start my agent search.  I think what surprises me most is that you always think you're done revising before you really are.  ;-)

I'm right there with you on the hugeness of revision--it's such a long haul!  Thank goodness for the instant gratification of blogging, right?  If you had to pick one favorite blog, what would it be?

Oh, that's not fair!  I refuse to pick one, but I will narrow it down to five, not counting this one.  Except for #3, these are authors in various stages of publishing, but they are all extremely funny, supportive, and offer great advice and encouragement on their blogs.
1) Kiersten White - funny, nice, and awesome.
2) Carrie Harris - because she's snarfalicious.
3) DGLM - informative and interesting.
4) Lisa and Laura - Hilarious and super nice.  Also pretty.
5) Mike Jung - Who doesn't love Mike?

What online resource have you found most helpful?

Without question, Verla Kay's Blueboards.  Everyone there is so supportive and kind.  It's really amazing.

What has been your biggest trial in writing?

Aside from finding time to write (see bio), I think the subjectivity has been the most frustrating.  In the same week that I found out I won that contest I mentioned above, I got a query +10 critique that basically said I suck.  I'll get one person saying, "This is great!  I love x, y and z." and then another saying, "Hmm, I'm not really feeling x, y, and z."  It's enough to make you CRAZY.

Happily, I am finally in a place where I feel confident enough to take what I agree with and ignore the rest.  Not everyone is going to "get" or like my stories, and that's okay. :)

So far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?

Realizing that I really enjoy writing.  I had a sixth grade teacher who turned me off to writing.  She never had one nice thing to say about my writing, and it really affected me -- it took me 20 years to try writing for fun again. 

If you could create the perfect place for you to write in, what would it look like?

Ooh!  A smallish room with a window, the rest of the walls lined with bookshelves.  A very comfortable chair at a desk, and a couch, so I can go wherever I feel most comfortable.  Of course, this room would have to be soundproofed, and come with a lock on the door (three children are loud and love to burst in asking for stuff about every five seconds).

If you could be a character in a book, and live within their world, what character would you be?

I can't choose a character, but I would love to live in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar.  I would be a Herald, of course, with the gift of Fetching, and my Companion would be named Krista. :)

What other distractions are in your life?

Uh, I refer you again to my bio.  
Fun fact: I was distracted from completing this interview three times for a total of about 40 minutes.  First, 7yo son had a breakdown because his pants were all in the wash, and he just COULDN'T wear shorts to his Boy Scout event.  After 20 minutes of crying and realizing the event had already started and he was still sitting there moaning about pants, he finally (reluctantly and still crying) put on shorts.  Then, almost3yo daughter walked up with her hands covered in lipstick.  Yep, she'd gotten into my makeup bag.  I cleaned her up and wept a little at the mess she'd left on the bed (anyone know how to get lipstick off of a mattress?).  Third, I got both daughters a snack.  Whoops, there was  a fourth, just now.  Almost3yo daughter decided to make another mess with her snack.  I will now be washing the tablecloth.  Again.
What was the question?

LOL!  I'm no stranger to kid distractions.  And, just because I’m curious, coffee or tea?

Oh, coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.  And then more coffee.  With splenda and milk, in case you were wondering (no cream).

Thanks so much Larissa--I loved what you said about subjectivity.  It's great to remember that it's ultimately about them and not you.  It's so hard not to take rejection personally!  

Everyone welcome Larissa with a comment or question in the comment section.  She's planning on stopping by after work--in the afternoon--to answer anything you throw her way.  So go on, throw something!!  

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


So, you tell me.  Have I jinxed myself?  One of my core (albeit, weird) beliefs is that what you put out into the universe comes back to you.  So, naming this blog 'Edited To Within An Inch Of My Life', and revising my latest book  FOREVER (it seems) may be linked.  But what to do?  I love the name.  And I love the book. So, I blew some fresh air in here and changed things around.  I'm enjoying the new look, and hope you do too.

And, to be honest, my revision is definitely moving forward.  Just sloooowly!

Things that are not moving slowly?

This awesome new forum over at Chalk Talk.  Check it out. Thanks Tracy, for the new writing playground!  

And, biggest, fastest news of all?  Well, remember how all the time occasionally I talk about the game of WIBIJ--the game where you follow clues to very cool blogs, and if you do it fast enough, or leave the best comment out there in the blogosphere, then you win an award?  Well, at next Wednesday's May 5th game, you don't just win an award, and bragging rights, but you will WIN A BOOK!  You will get to choose a book from one of the blog authors that we have featured in a WIBIJ game!.  Now, I love winning stuff, especially BOOKS, and I love blog contests, and this one is based on actual merit!  No random numbers or pulling names out of a hat.  You compete, you win, if you are FAST enough, or WITTY enough.  So are you? ARE YOU?


Our May Debut YA author Game:

Prophecy of Days - Book One: The Daykeeper's Grimoire by Christy Raedeke

Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler

Claire De Lune by Christine Johnson 

Our Picture Book Game:

any of the Good Night, Good Knight picture book series by Shelley Moore Thomas

Two of a Kind, or The New Girl...And Me by Jacqui Robbins 

Hop! PLOP! by Corey Schwartz

HOW AWESOME ARE THOSE BOOKS?!  You so want to win, right?!  Me too!! Oh, I'm so bummed that I create the clues, and therefore are disqualified to run the race!  Maybe I could go incognito.  I would so WIN THIS THING!! Go, check out the site, practice following previous games clues, and we'll see you next Wednesday, May 5th.  The fast race begins at 1:00 PM EST, and the relaxed version runs for 24 hours, so you can craft your witty comments to leave on host blogs!  There will be at least TWO winners--one for first place, one for best comment.  Confused?  Everything else you need to know is at the WIBIJ?! blog. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Meeting Geocaching

Thanks everyone, for sticking around through last week's vacation week with my kids. I didn't get much writing done, but I did process some feedback, and tried to keep up with some blogging things.

On that note, we had a fantastic WIBIJ game! For those of you who don't know, WIBIJ is a scavenger hunt game designed to get new traffic to deserving blogs, and to relieve some stress by HAVING FUN. I have to say, that for me, WIBIJ has been super rewarding. I love having something concrete to work on that actually has an endpoint. You know, as apposed to the revisions that I've been working on. And I have tons of fun watching the game unfold. The next WIBIJ game starts on Wednesday May 5th at 1:00 PM EST and runs for a full 24 hours. And there will be prizes for the winners. PRIZES! Isn't that refreshing? A contest where you have to perform to win!! So mark your calendars, and take a look at the previous races--even try one or two, and see if it's something that would be fun for you. Join in! It can't hurt to try!

Last week there was a fabulous Friday Feature, with Shannon O'Donnell, a truly lovely writer! Check it out, if you missed it! And, thanks to everyone who left comments and questions for Shannon--what a fun day. And welcome to all the new followers! I'm still trying to catch up on blog commenting, but I'll be by when I can! This Friday, I'm welcome the fantastic Larissa to my Friday Feature. It'll be a blast--be sure to stop by here and ask her a question!

Last week, I also tried Geocaching with my family--and what FUN!! We romped around our town forest, GPS in hand, calling out to each other. Talk about many alpha dogs trying to lead the way! :) Organized chaos! And when we arrived on scene, we had to really hunt for the container of prizes, since our GPS wasn't exact. It even led us away from the cache at one point. We had to use our gut to tell us where that cache was. It reminded me of this revision. I know I'm in the proximity, I just need to zero in on how to get there. Use my gut. Listen to my GPS (my crit partners) and trust what they tell me. Keep at it until I find the cache, no matter how frustratingly long it takes. And, mostly, listen to and trust my gut. I'm geocaching until this revision is done. And getting out my compass this week to make sure I'm getting back on track.

So, goal for the week:

To come up from my hibernation--prompted by trying to process feedback, and vacation with my kids--and to look at the revision with a fresh eye. To jump in yet again!

What are your goals for the week? Have you geocached? How do you come out of writing hibernation?

And, if you want some coworkers to help you get your goals accomplished this week, check out Tina's unplugging schedule. Connect with another writer at Tina's 'office'!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Shannon O'Donnell

Welcome to today's Friday Feature. This week we are exploring the journey of picture book and chapter book writer, Shannon O'Donnell. Shannon is a wonderfully supportive blogger, and her comments always make me smile. Each blog post at her blog, Book Dreaming, is a wonderful balance between interesting photos, amazing quotes, and her own writing experience. I love visiting because I always, always take something away from it. She gets me thinking! This is my most recent favorite post, about the virtue of being disloyal to that first draft--something I know a bit about! I am excited to introduce Shannon on the blog today. Make sure to leave her a question or comment in the comment section, and visit her blog on the way out!

Welcome, Shannon! Thanks for being here today. Tell us a little about yourself.

A high school English teacher, I have a master's degree in Education and serve as my school district's writing specialist and 6 Traits of Writing trainer. I specialize in training teachers about the value of children’s books (picture – YA) as teaching tools, across the curriculum and at all grade levels. I am a member of the Montana Educators Association & Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of both the NEA and the NFT, and am a committee chair for the Montana State Reading Council. In addition to Scott and the Naughty Boy Factory, I have nearly completed its sequel, Molly and the Naughty Girl Workshop.

Shannon, what are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a chapter book called, Scott and the Naughty Boy Factory. I originally wrote and queried it as a picture book, before realizing the story didn’t want to be a PB. It wanted to be a chapter book. We had a tug-of-war of wills, and the story won. I’ve been re-working it for about a year now.

I love that--the tug of war of wills. The book always wins in the end, I think! What made you start to write seriously?

I’ve dreamt of writing picture books for as long as I can remember. It was my husband who finally pushed me off the ledge. I think we all need someone behind us, cheering us on, believing we can do it. After a few years of nagging, I started my first picture book.

What a supportive husband! Tell us, what stage are you at, currently, in your journey toward publication? And--how is that going for you? Has anything surprised you about this stage?

Right now, I’m waiting for critique feedback on the Naughty Boy Factory. I’ve been struggling with the ending for a while, but I think it’s getting close. If I get a green light from the girls, I’ll do a final proof and then get ready to query. As for surprises, I think I’ve been floored by how long this process actually takes. I can only pray “time” is a little kinder to me in the querying process.

Oh, the waiting for feedback stage. That's one of my least favorite stages. I bet you're spending some time on the internet as you wait! If you had to pick one favorite blog, what would it be?

Ouch! Now, that’s not a very nice question. Only one? There are blogs I love for their quality writing lessons, blogs I love for their humor, blogs I love for their content, and blogs I love for their blogger. If I HAD to choose only one, though, I think it would be “The Bookshelf Muse”. I have a folder full of Angela’s valuable writing lessons and advice – especially her Thesaurus entry posts. On any day, I can take Angela’s lesson and immediately apply it to my WIP.

What is a favorite blog post that you have written?

Hmmm. I think my favorites are “The Runaway Tree”, “Cavewriting”, and “My Paragraphs are Frankensteins”. The first two are posts based on Barry Lane’s book, After the End. The third is a lesson based on something from Stephen King’s, On Writing.

What online resource have you found most helpful?

Guide to Literary Agents” by Chuck Sambuchino. The information on that site is priceless. I love the way information is organized into user-friendly categories. The “successful queries” category is extremely helpful, and I love the New Agency Alerts.

Shannon, what has been your biggest trial in writing?

Patience! I’m the kind of person who wants something yesterday. Waiting has always been hard for me, even with little things. As we all know, writing is all about waiting. Waiting to finish the draft. Waiting to edit the draft. Waiting to finish editing the draft. Waiting to hear back from all those query letters written in blood. I can’t tell you how difficult that is for someone like me.

What tricks have you acquired to make you write or create when you don’t feel up to writing?

There are tricks? What tricks? Lately, the best way to give myself a good kick in the rear is to cruise our blogging circle. The trials and tribulations and successes of blogger buddies is a real motivator for me.

I agree whole-heartedly--our blogging buddies have much wisdom to impart! Tell us about a book that has impacted your writing life.

Patricia Polacco and William Steig are two of my writer heroes. Oh, how I love Patricia Polacco! As for a writing tool, I think Steven king’s On Writing is my favorite.

What is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?

My practical goal is to be published – to hold a book in my hand and see my own name on the cover.
A reach-for-the-stars goal would be to walk into Barnes and Noble and see my book, sitting face out, on a shelf.

I can't wait for that day! So far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?

The best thing that ever happened to me as a writer was finding all of you. Seriously. I have never felt more encouraged, more driven to succeed, and more understood than I do within this blogging community. It’s wonderful to know I’m not alone. I love it that we can all share our hopes and fears and successes (Beth Revis!!) with each other.

If you could create the perfect place for you to write in, what would it look like?

It would be a pale yellow room, with huge windows and a view of water. I would sit at a beautiful antique desk, in a fluffy-soft, cushioned chair, tapping away on a new Macintosh computer. Canisters of peanut M&M’s and other misc. chocolates would line shelves within my reach, and a mini fridge filled with ice-cold Pepsi would sit nearby. And because it would be a kid-free, husband-free zone, I would hear only silence.

Sounds dreamy. I hope the walls are sound proof! If you could be a character in a book, and live within their world, what character would you be?

Oh, that’s an easy one. I would be Meg from Inkheart, living inside the ink world with Mo and Dustfinger.

I haven't read Inkheart--it's going on my list right now! What other distractions are in your life?

I work to keep up with my three children and their busy schedules, while teaching high school English full time. We’re trying to sell our house, so cleaning is a way of life right now. It isn’t easy being prepared to show your house on a moment’s notice with three kids and a hubby!

And, just because I’m curious, coffee or tea?

COFFEE! I like my coffee with a little flavored creamer, but my favorite is an extra-hot, vanilla latte.

Shannon--thanks for the wonderful interview. I'm amazed at how much you've accomplished while raising a beautiful family and working full time! And your chapter book sounds so compelling! Everyone, show Shannon lots of love by leaving her a question or comment in the comment section, and let's keep this discussion going! (And don't forget to visit Shannon's blog, Book Dreaming, on the way out!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010



Next WIBIJ?! game, TODAY, Wednesday, APRIL 21st, starting at 12:50 PM EST.  Be there!

And, see you Friday, here, for Shannon's fabulous interview!

And, I'd love to unplug with you and Tina in the Practice Room-- Thursday at 12PM EST

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Meeting, Here's an Orange!

So, today is Marathon Monday, in Boston, and the marathon runs right past my street.  We live within shouting distance of the halfway mark, and we spend a couple of hours yelling and handing out oranges to the runners.  I love being able to walk out my door, and down the street to the marathon, but my favorite place to cheer is closer to the finish line--Heartbreak Hill.  The two times that my brother ran, I stationed myself there.  I just love being able to cheer on the runners at the hardest part of the race.

I'm excited to be handing out oranges today.  And, I'm digging the marathon analogy.  Because writing is nothing if not a marathon.  Sprinting off the starting  line, getting a second wind, hitting the wall, struggling up Heartbreak Hill, and finally arriving at the finish line in Boston, exhausted.  I'm eating plenty of oranges.

And, hopefully, I'm handing out lots of oranges to people in various stages of this writing race.  And, I want to ask you--what is it that people give you that energizes you for the rest of the marathon--or just that next mile.  What gets you through?  What are your oranges?

My goals this week include working forward on the revisions on the end of my MG, and soaking up the feedback that others have given me.  Figure out how to get to the next level.  To grab some oranges, and run the next mile of this marathon.

And, I'm excited to unplug with Tina in her fantastic Practice Room at 12:00 EST today.  And excited to introduce Shannon O'Donnell, picture book and chapter book author to this week's Friday Feature interview!  Visit her blog, and get ready to ask her some fantastic questions.

So, what are you oranges--what keeps you going when your energy wanes during your marathon?  What are your goals for the week?

Jets just flew over my house, which signifies the beginning of the race!  The marathon is on!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Margaret Golla

Welcome to today's Friday Feature interview! Today I have a veteran of the writing world. Please give a warm welcome to Margaret Golla. She is writing Middle Grade Fantasty, although she has written in a number of age groups and genres. I have read the beginning of one of her wips--and I have to say, I think that sooner rather than later, you will be reading an update here that she has been snatched up by an agent. I loved what I read! Please give her lots of love, and remember to leave her a question in the comments--she'll be by to illuminate us further! And don't forget to check out her blog on the way out! 

Welcome Margaret! Why don't you start by telling us a bit about yourself!

In 2001, I started writing. I was almost 40 years old and wanted to find out if I could write a book, exactly like every other mother who had a kid and only worked part-time. Oh, I’d written off and on for the previous thirty years--more off than on, come to think of it. So I joined RWA and a local romance chapter, completing four manuscripts, one novella, and one short story, but I never could get into the angsty emotional crap. I liked plots, not mushy feelings. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy READING them, but I couldn’t write one if my life depended on it. 

I started thinking, if I didn’t write romance what DID I enjoy writing about? Fantasy creatures. But I didn’t think I wrote big enough for traditional Sci-Fi/Fantasy, so I thought about it and realized I LOVED writing young. So I switched from writing romance to middle grade in mid-2008. I wrote ten easy readers, one picture book, two short stories (I posted them as serial blog stories), and one middle grade novel. I’m currently working on the second of the potential series, with an idea for #3.

Margaret, tell us, what are you currently working on?

I have a middle grade light fantasy series that I’m working on. The first in the series generated a few requests. . . and subsequent rejections, but I like this character and I’ll continue to write about her adventures.

What made you start to write seriously?

The same reason many women turn to writing . . . or some other habit, I had a kid. It was 2001, I was almost forty and had a newborn so, of course, I wondered if I could write a book. And no, I wasn’t born with a pencil or computer in my hand like many writers claim. I basically didn’t write for most of my life. When I was twenty-four, I took a creative writing course at the local Junior College (I had a BS in Medical Technology and was working night shift at a local hospital, so I needed an outlet). Uhm, let’s just say that after THAT particular experience I didn’t write for over fifteen years. Okay, part of that decision was because I purchased my first horse and spent all my extra time training, riding, and jumping her . . . well, that and killing time at the barn. It was a great place to hang—love the smell of horses, leather and sweat.

What stage are you at, currently, in your journey toward publication? And--how is that going for you? Has anything surprised you about this stage?

Uhm, writing, revising, querying, revising some more, query again, starting new story, blah, blah, blah. The book I’m currently writing is my seventh. I have four romances, one fantasy, one novella, ten easy readers, and two picture books under the bed. I’ve been along this path before, and YES, I do have to say it gets easier—in a sense. Form rejections used to debilitate me. Now, I realize my writing A) isn’t what they’re looking for, B) doesn’t interest them, C) isn’t saleable, or D) they don’t get. I’ve learned to get over myself and realize that this is a business. Everyone wants to make money, but if they don’t see a sure thing most agents/editors aren’t willing to take the chance.

If you had to pick one favorite blog, what would it be?

This is a tough one. I assume you mean blogs that are not my own. :) I do have a habit of blog hopping in the morning and I visit so many of them. I’d probably have to say, Bookends, Pub Rants, and Janet Reid are my faves. The agent blogs are very insightful and the information they provide is invaluable. I do troll some author blogs, but prefer hitting glogs—more for bang for your buck.

Margaret--glogs? I had to google that! And I came up with a few different things--you're talking about group blogs, right? Can you tell us about a few glogs that you check out?

Glogs: Hm, I read so many agent blogs, but the main glogs are: Murder She Writes, Query Tracker blog, Twisted Sisters (some of my romance friends that actually kept in touch), Writing Sluts (my old romance chapter), Writer Unboxed (a few GIAM buddies), Magical Musings (GIAM buddies). I check them every day, but I don’t necessarily read them, depending on my time constraints and topic. I don’t belong to a glog. I tried one out, but found out that I ‘don’t play well with others’. :-P

What is a favorite blog post that you have written?

That’s hard. Some of my posts have been about memories that I use in my stories, or catalysts in your life, or simply a middle grade short story that I wrote and broken up into installments. I don’t know, so why don’t you pick one?

Margaret, if I had to pick, I would pick your serial blog stories. What a cool idea for blog posts! Everyone check out Margaret's latest serial--featuring her MG protagonist, Rhee Webber. So cool! Margaret, what online resource have you found most helpful?

Again, a toughie. Agent Query. Query Tracker, Preditors and Editors. Absolute Write.

Margaret--it takes a lot of support to write--what kind of support have you found helpful? It must have been difficult to switch genres, and community.

This picture is part of an online goals group I’m in--GIAM—they are the best friends in the world! Back L-R Melanie Atkins, Me, Karin Tabke, Marilyn Auer; front L-R Amy Atwell and Liz Lipperman.

In October 2004, Amy Atwell started a group she called, WritingGIAM—Goal setting, Inspiration, Amity, and Motivation. Originally, it was open only to RWA PRO members—writers who had finished a novel and were in the process of trying to sell that novel. She said she started it to keep herself on track with her goals, but it became more than that.

Though we emerged from an RWA sanctioned loop, this loop is not restricted by any National group or club, BUT it has benefited and grew strong without the pettiness some groups get. We have authors published with romance, mystery, small press, Epubbed, or unpubbed and some of them edited for various publishers. We all benefited from their frank and open discussions about the publishing biz, including contracts, agents, editors, etc.

What is said on that loop STAYS on that loop. GIAM has a cap of 50 members, but due to demand, Amy has started 4 GIAM loops and recently one called Go PRO, for writers in the process of finishing and polishing their first manuscripts. I don’t know what I would have done without this group. When I switched from writing romance to MG, I was basically kicked out of my local chapter due to the constraints of membership (not just writing, but writing ROMANCE).

After having support of my romance ‘friends’, but then turned loose because of I didn’t write it any longer—hurt. GIAM helped me though the tough times and I KNOW every one of those ladies are backing me 100%. We trust each other. This is the GIAM homepage, scroll down if anyone is interested in joining.

Margaret--that sounds amazing. That kind of support really makes a difference! I love finding new ways to connect with writers. Tell us, what has been your biggest trial in writing?

Patience. For a woman who is infinitely patient with everything else in life, the whole publishing biz is the most trying.

What tricks have you acquired to make you write or create when you don’t feel up to writing?

A timer. Thirty minutes on and fifteen off.

Tell us about a book that has impacted your writing life.

Again, there are so many of them. There is one book that I was reading when I finally ‘got it’. The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler.

What is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?

I’ve been in the trenches so long that I get excited when ANYONE shows an interest in my story. Recently, I received a form rejection for a requested full manuscript and my response was, “Huh, at least they used letterhead and thick paper.” Trust me, it’s taken me YEARS to get to this point. I used to shut down when I received a form rejection on a query letter. But in answer to your question . . . Practical goal: write funny and enjoyable middle grade stories. Pie-in-the-sky: see my book in print.

So far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?

Creating new worlds.

If you could create the perfect place for you to write in, what would it look like?

Exactly where my desk currently resides.

In the kitchen with a window overlooking our swimming pool and koi pond.

If you could be a character in a book, and live within their world, what character would you be?

My current protagonist, Rhee Webber. Yeah, I have to admit that I’m pouring a lot of myself into her character.

What other distractions are in your life?

Oi! I’m easily distracted! Not a good thing. I have a nine-year-old who attends the school behind my house. I garden, crochet, read, workout, and goof off any chance I get.

And, just because I’m curious, coffee or tea?

Both. Two cups of coffee when I get up, read emails and blog hop. Tea when I need to get up, walk around, or just hold something warm in my hands.

Margaret, thanks so much for the wonderful interview! I really love the bit about the GIAM group, I'm definitely going to check that out. And thanks for stopping by to talk with us today! Everyone, please leave a comment or question for Margaret in the comments! And, remember to give Margaret some love on her blog, too.