“I’d like to emphasize that when a reader finishes a great novel, he will immediately begin looking for another. If someone loves your book, it increases the chance that he or she will look at mine. So there is no competition between writers. Another writer’s success helps build a larger readership for all of us.”

-David Farland

Author Interview: Ann Dee Ellis


Originally posted on April 18, 2014

Spending time with Ann Dee Ellis is never boring as you will see from her interview. The year I attended her workshop is a memorable one full of learning, laughter, tender moments and lasting friendships. Every WIFYR experience has taught me something new and helped me become a stronger writer. One thing I learn from Ann Dee was about finding the voice of your character. We are fortunate to have her teaching a mini-workshop on that topic, on Friday, June 20 at the WIFYR conference.

Ann Dee is part of the great blogging team at Throwing up Words.

Q:  Ann Dee, do you have a writing ritual – a particular location, a certain time of day, etc?

A:  I write in my bed, in the middle of the day, while my baby and my two year old sleep. I try not to eat too much candy but sometimes it can’t be helped. Red Vines, peach rings, and if I’m really having a hard time, chocolate covered cinnamon bears from the BYU bookstore. Sometimes I feel bad about all the candy but other times I remember as a child dreaming of the day I could drive myself to the grocery story and buy myself as much candy as I wanted. That day has arrived.

I also enjoy writing in remote cottages on the beach. I think. I wish. One day.

Q:  What were some of your favorite books as a child?

A: I loved Drummerhof. I loved The Little House. I loved The Funny Little Woman.

My mom would read to us at night in her gigantic waterbed that would slosh around when you climbed on it. She read us The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie, Charlotte’s Web, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, and a novel about a Native American tribe that had a ritual where if two men wanted the same woman, they would each take an arm and pull. The one who truly loved the woman would finally give up and let her go so that she wouldn’t be hurt. This was romantic. Except when neither let go. Then it was sad.

When I was a teenager, I loved Louise Plummer’s books. I cried my face off in the basement bedroom while reading the Romantic Obsessions and Humiliations of of Annie Sehlmeier. 

Q:  What do you do when you aren’t writing?

A:  I sit on the heater with my kids and color. Sometimes I put make up on. Other times I draw on the sidewalk. Sometimes I teach college students. Or make them cry. I go to church and walk around the halls. I talk to people and watch them.

Q:  Of all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why?

A:  My Mazzy from Everything is Fine. I love her. I feel like she’s been neglected and she doesn’t deserve it. She’s brave and she’s weird and she puts oranges in her bra and she yells at boys and does yoga and eats marshmallows and watches Oprah and I love her. I miss her and I love her.

Q:  What is the hardest part of writing for you?

A:  Letting go.

This is my favorite part about writing and also the hardest. Especially when I have limited time.

When you have so little time to write, you don’t want to waste it. You want every minute to count.

That’s a problem because when you create, you need the space to mess up, to go the wrong way, to write big chunks of lovely that will later be cut. You need the freedom to laugh and be ridiculous and try new things and not worry about what you mother or editor or fancy writing friend might think.

Writing is a mind game. It’s about letting go when everything tells you to hold on. To control it. To plan it. To make it good. The hardest part of writing is letting it be bad or weird or nothing. Just writing.

Q:  What makes you laugh?

A:  My boys. All five of them.

Q:  Can you tell us about what you are working on?

A:  A book about a girl and a boy and a trailer park.

Blog Tour and Interview: Jennifer Nielsen


Originally posted March 5, 2014

The first time I heard Jennifer Nielsen speak, I learned so much about making a novel powerful, that I had to go read her book, The False Prince. The plot and other elements of the book kept me engaged to the last page and wanting more. Fortunately there is more.

WIFYR is offering the opportunity to spend a morning with Jennifer Nielsen learning about plot. The blog tour also visits Jennifer today with a focus on plotting.

Enjoy the interview below.

Thanks, Jennifer!

Q:  What were some of your favorite books as a child?

A:  I really loved “The Wolves of Willoughby Chase” by Joan Aiken, and for years, I read that nearly on a loop. I also loved “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle, “The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin, and all the Hardy Boys books. But perhaps the most important book to me as a child was “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton. Because she had written the book when she was so young, she was the first author I thought of as a real person, someone not too different from me. She was the first person to get me to think that becoming an author might be a real possibility for me. I will always be grateful for the influence of these authors in my life. And when something about one of my books gets a child to start writing their own story, I consider that the highest of honors.

Q:  Of all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why?

A:  I don’t know if “favorite” is the right word, but I definitely love to write Sage’s character from THE FALSE PRINCE. He is so mischievous and stubborn and willing to do incredibly stupid things, that I am often just as surprised as the readers by what he does next. In writing that series, I feel like I went on this huge journey with Sage, and that the reward for it is understanding him better. He still holds secrets and surprises, and I hope there will come a time when I can explore those too.

Q:  What is the hardest part of writing for you?

A:  Waiting. Publishing is a slow moving boat, and patience is not really my strongest virtue. You write a manuscript, then set it aside and wait while it settles. You submit a query, then wait for a response. You get an editor, then wait until you can announce it. You wait for editing notes, wait for publication, wait to see how readers receive it. There is really just so. much. waiting. But it’s part of the business, so eventually I hope to get used to it. It’s also why I strongly encourage writers to have one project always at some phase of development. Because you should always be moving forward, even while waiting.

Q:  What do you wish published writers had told you before you started writing?

A:  That I can make it. We spend so much time warning aspiring authors of the difficulties, the rejection, and the frustration – and those are definitely part of this business. But I also think it’s important to let authors know that publishers are always looking for the next great book, readers remain passionate about stories they love, and that for those who are willing to keep going, there is a place for them in this industry. More than anything else, I am convinced that success in writing is a test of perseverance, and for those who keep going, success is a “when” and not an “if.”

Q:  Can you tell us about what you are working on?

A:  My next book will be released in Spring 2015 and is called THE PRAETOR WAR. It takes place in Ancient Rome with an escaped Roman slave, some stolen magic, and a battle to control the fall of the Roman Empire. I am in love with this story, and I think readers who’ve enjoyed THE ASCENDANCE TRILOGY will find a lot of what they already loved, combined with the new elements of magic, and the grandeur of this ancient empire.


Blog Tour and Interview: Sherry Meidell


Originally posted on March 20, 2014.

Illustrator, Sherry Meidell, will present a Mini-Workshop on Tuesday, June 17 at Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers. With a collection of illustrated books and an intriguing topic, Stepping into Your Picture, her workshop is sure to be a treat to those who attend.

Read the interview below to learn more about this fabulous illustrator. Follow the blog tour to see some of what Sherry is working on and read the WIFYR guest post.

Welcome Sherry!

Q:  What influenced you to illustrate and write books for kids?

A:  In elementary school I would get lost in book illustrations. I studied them and the stories they told. At night I stared at the ceiling of my room and imagine faces made by the shadows there. When we would go up to my grandparents house I would study the Saturday Evening Post covers by the great illustrators of the day. I suppose that early love of art sent me in the direction of illustrating children’s books and wanting to create my own stories. `

Q:  Do you have an illustration ritual ? a particular location, a certain time of day, etc?

A:  I have a studio in my house. After a bit of morning reading and excercise, I love to head up to the studio. The morning sun will come in the windows and set the mood for a nice day of illustrating. I always have projects going whether it’s a book dummy I’m working on or a watercolor to paint or another story to work on.

Q:  Who are some of the writers and illustrators you most admire?

A:  I love the illustrations of Jerry Pinkney. I have a nice collection of the books he has illustrated. I also love N. C. Wyeth and Norman Rockwell and Beatrix Potter.

Q:  What illustrating advice do you have for emerging illustrators?

A:  One of the best tools any artist can have is a sketch book and a pen. It should be with you almost always to capture things that are around you. They strengthen you muscle memory and skill. They are a valuable place to keep ideas and memories.

Q:  What have been some of the greatest moments in your life?

A:  Great moments come every day. This life is filled with beauty.

Q:  What makes you laugh?

A:  I seem to get laughing at times when it is not acceptable to laugh which usually makes me shake uncontrollably and laugh harder. In my younger days, I was in a musical of the Wizard of Oz. I was one of the munchkin lullaby league. There were three of us on stage. It was time for us to sing our song. We represent the lullaby league, the lullaby league the…….. and it hit. Two of the lullaby league hung their heads with uncontrollable giggles and the other girl sang a very nice solo. Was I the one singing the solo so nicely? No I was the one who giggled through the song and most of the night.

Q:  Can you tell us about what you are working on?

A:  A book dummy. :)

(Note: A book dummy is a mock-up of your book, meant to show editors the layout.)