NiFtY Author Donna Cooner

I met Donna at Katherine Longshore’s book launch, after I’d been stalking following her and her fellow muses via the YA Muses blog. Her debut young adult novel, SKINNY, will be released this coming Tuesday, October 1st, and I’m thrilled for her, and can’t wait to get my hands on that book!

BH: Welcome, Donna! I am so looking forward to reading SKINNY. What was the biggest joy of writing the book? What was the biggest challenge?

DC: My biggest joy in writing this book has been the personal connections people seem to have with the story.  Readers have shared some amazing struggles with self image and many of them have nothing to do with weight.  I love the fact people are able to relate to the story in so many different ways.  The biggest challenge for me was just completing the story.  My full time job as a  university administrator is hectic and time consuming, so finding time to write is always difficult.

BH: I heard from a little bird (or two birds) that SKINNY wasn’t your first choice of a book to work on. Can you share why it was more difficult to commit to this one than the other ideas you had?

DC: This book is incredibly personal.  In many ways, that made it a difficult choice to write.  I’ve tried to avoid the topic of obesity all my life.  The thought that I was actually going to write about it for the whole world to see was terrifying.  It probably would have been much easier to work on something that wasn’t so close to my heart, but I also think that’s the very reason it connected with readers.

BH: If you had a daughter, which of Ever’s attributes do you wish she shared? Which ones would you never want to see her display?

DC:  Ever is a talented singer. I would definitely hope any child of mine would be involved in the performing arts in some way.  Singing solos in church and performing in school musicals as a choir member gave me the self-confidence to be in front of people.  I learned to prepare well, practice, and perform under pressure.   As an adult, I still draw on those skills today when teaching and speaking to groups.

Ever is so extremely self-absorbed and self-critical that she almost misses out on some fantastic opportunities and potential friendships. Her journey is all about learning that lesson and coming to some positive realizations about herself.  I would hope my daughter wouldn’t have that same, so so difficult, struggle.  Reflection and introspection might be good for writers, but there definitely needs to be a healthy balance.  Especially when you are a young adult.

BH: Do you have a new project in the works you can tell us a little about?

DC:  It’s a little too early to talk about yet, but there is definitely a book two in the works.    It’s not a sequel to SKINNY, but will be set in the same Texas town.  You might even get to see Ever and Rat again.

BH: What does your workspace look like?

DC:  I have a second floor loft in my house that is my study.  My cat, Stu, tries his best to get in between me and the computer screen (see picture).  Roxanne and Cassidy, my chocolate labs, are usually lying on the floor near my feet.  The wall is adorned with notes and scene cards for my next project.  I also tack up pictures from teen magazines to represent what I think my current characters might look like.

BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

DC:  Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

BH: Any words on advice to aspiring writers for keeping the hope alive?

DC: SKINNY is my third completed novel.  If anyone had reasons for giving up, and not writing book three, it was me.  But the story was there.  Waiting.  And so was this amazing journey.   I’m just so grateful for good writing friends who encouraged me when I most needed it or I would have missed it all.  Don’t give up.  Write your stories and keep writing your stories.  You never know what might be waiting for you just around the bend from your next “The End.”

BH: Thank you, Donna, for visiting and sharing about SKINNY and your writing adventures. For more on Donna and her writing, you can visit her website by clicking here. You can read the first chapter of SKINNY by visiting the YA Muses Blog here…and you can buy it on Tuesday!

NiFtY Author Seven N. Blue – Reprise!

Today we have with us Seven N. Blue, author of young adult fantasy The Lunatics. I met Seven through the (now disbanded) Sacramento Writers Group when we were the lone young adult fantasy writers, hashing out our first drafts and craving feedback to improve our writing. See how far Seven has come with that manuscript!

BH: What inspired you to write The Lunatics?

SNB: In four words: Defiance and a Boy.

BH: What are some of the things readers like most about The Lunatics?
SNB: Besides Christian Lunatic you mean 🙂 I think the one thing that comes up over and over again (and I know this is cliche but it’s what I keep getting), “I could not put the book down until the very end!” I think it’s because it’s sort of episodic in nature…like Alice in Wonderland, but a bit more connected. It’s definitely a ride.

BH: Which of the characters is most like you?

SNB: I think there’s a lot of Josephine in me…but then again…I think there’s a little bit of Josephine in all of us…doll!

BH: What are the benefits you experienced with self-publishing? What were the disadvantages? 

SNB: Advantages: I get to call the shots on story, title, marketing…etc. The disadvantages…I get to call the shots on story, title, marketing…etc. Well, you get the picture! But all in all…I love being an Indie Author.

BH: Any forthcoming sequels for The Lunatics?

SNB: Yes! I recently came up with the whole outline for the sequel of The Lunatics…but don’t plan to dive into it until later this year – as I am in the midst of my next project.

BH: A new project? Can you give us any details?  

SNB: I am currently revising a completed first draft. It’s a young adult novel…but not fantasy…in fact…it’s as real as it gets. Sort of Girl Interrupted meets Crank…but you know…funnier 🙂

BH: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received as a writer?

SNB: Butt. In. Chair. (just sit down and write)!

BH: Thanks for coming back for a second visit, Seven!
To find out more about Seven and to get your very own paperback or digital copy of The Lunatics, visit Seven’s website here!

NiFtY Author Oksana Marafioti

Today’s a special weekend post, an interview with Oksana Marafioti, author of the recently-released memoir, American Gypsy. I met Oksana through my awesome, brand-new literary agent, Brandi Bowles, because Brandi also represents Oksana. Oksana’s book sounds so good,  I had to introduce her here. First, though, a description from the book, cribbed off Amazon (there’s more, so click the link for a full description):

Fifteen-year-old Oksana Marafioti is a Gypsy. This means touring with the family band from the Mongolian deserts to the Siberian tundra. It means getting your hair cut in “the Lioness.” It also means enduring sneering racism from every segment of Soviet society. Her father is determined that his girls lead a better, freer life. In America! Also, he wants to play guitar with B. B. King. And cure cancer with his personal magnetism. All of this he confides to the woman at the American embassy, who inexplicably allows the family entry. Soon they are living on the sketchier side of Hollywood. 

BH: What is it about your book that you think will grab readers most?

OM: I think, maybe, the promise of the Romani culture revealed. Despite a Gypsy’s popularity in literature and media, most know very little about us, and what they do know is often distorted by stereotypes.

BH: Which parts of your book gave you the most joy to write?
OM: All the funny parts. It’s liberating to examine your life with a sense of humor. I also loved writing the romantic bits. When I wrote about meeting Cruz, the boy I fell for in high school, I relived that moment as if we were standing there, our eyes locked. Gave me that fizzy feeling all over again.
BH: You originally queried our agent with a fiction project, is that right? What made you decide to write your memoir, and was it easier or harder for you than writing fiction?
OM: I always toyed with the idea of writing about my family, but I didn’t seriously consider it until meeting Brandi. Her interest and enthusiasm was contagious, and I soon found myself writing for hours, researching multiple generations, quite unexpectedly fascinated with a story I thought I knew so well. For me, a memoir was easier because I was so close to the characters. And I knew the ending, so it was much easier to plot the story and see how it should develop.

BH: Is there any feeling or message you’d like readers to take away from your story?

OM: My most earnest message is that family is important, no matter who you are and where you come from. Family is the fountain of youth, the holy grail, the ultimate wonder of the world. We are all bruised by our pasts, but anger and cynicism are poisons passed on, by example, to our children. If we, as children, suffered abuse, we, as adults, have a chance to save another from it. Our culture may dictate rules and traditions, but never who’s worthy of love. And weather we admit it or not, every one of us yearns for one thing, and one thing only: To be accepted. So when we look into the eyes of a stranger who may not speak our language or know our way of life, before we make a judgment against them, we must always remember to see in those same eyes a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, sons and daughters, loved ones. Family and tolerance are the essential ingredients of happiness.

BH: What’s the most helpful writing advice you’ve received?

OM: Figure out the ending, first! If you have it, your characters will gravitate to it and your story will unravel.

Thank you, Oksana, for telling us about your book and your writing! I’m eager to get my hands on American Gypsy!
For more Oksana, you can follow her on Twitter here, and visit her website here.

NiFtY Author Talia Vance

Today we have a special guest – debut author Talia Vance. Not only is she a prolific writer (two books coming out within the year, AND one more under contract!), but I also count her as a friend.

BH: Welcome, Talia! You have not one, but TWO books coming out between now and next spring. Can you tell us a little about them?

TV: SILVER is a dark romance based on Celtic mythology.  Brianna Paxton accidentally binds her soul to the one guy it might kill her to love. SPIES & PREJUDICE is about a teenage private investigator, Berry Fields, who sets out to discover the truth behind her mother’s death and ends up questioning everything she thinks she knows about love and the one boy she is determined to hate.

BH: What were some of the joys of writing Silver?

TV: I loved discovering the characters’ secrets as I wrote (and there were some big ones), I loved those moments when they said the exact right line of dialogue, and I especially loved that I finished a book.

BH: We all have favorite minor characters in our own books, those characters we wish could have more page time. Who’s your favorite minor character in Silver?

TV: I am going to cheat here, because there are two characters I wanted to give more time to:  Joe is the conscience of the story, a voice of reason among chaos.  His past is full of violence and loss, but he’s always so calm and stoic.  I know what’s made him the way he is, but I often wonder what it would take to make him break. Someday he may get his own book, just so I can find out.

Portia barely makes an appearance in SILVER, but she definitely has her own story.  In early drafts, she began to take over the second half of the book, and I had to cut out her entire story from the final version.  All that background wasn’t for nothing, however.  She gets quite a bit more page time in GOLD. [note for the audience – GOLD is Book 2.]

BH: Switching from fantasy to contemporary is something I’m doing now with my own work-in-progress. Were there any challenges involved with your switch, and how did you overcome them?

TV:  The biggest challenge was switching from Brianna’s voice, which is more introspective and emotional, to Berry’s voice, which is more brash and confident.  Both stories take place in contemporary Southern California, but their worlds and challenges are very different.  One thing that helped me make the switch was having a separate playlist of songs that fit the mood and tone of each book.  I listen to the playlist while I’m writing and revising, and it helps puts me in the “head” of the character and the story.

BH: What does your workspace look like?

TV: I work on a couch with a laptop.  This picture is a pretty accurate depiction of how I write, complete with the lapdog lying across my legs.

BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

TV:  I am a fan of James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure.  Plotting is something that I tend to do organically.  Which usually means I have to figure out the structure and plan the plot in revisions.  Plot and Structure is a great book for reminding me what a story should look like in its purest form.

BH: What is the best writing advice anyone has given you?

TV:  Put everything you have on the page.  Don’t save your best stuff for another book.  Put it in this one.  You’ll come up with new stuff later.  Make this book count.

BH: Talia, thanks so much for sharing about your books and writing! I can’t wait to hold the published copies of Silver and Spies & Prejudice in my hands!

For more on Talia, including some brilliant blog posts on writing, you can visit her at the YA Muses blog by clicking here.

NiFtY Author Katherine Longshore

I’ve had the immense pleasure of getting to know Katherine through SCBWI and through following her (and her critique group) through their blog at the YA Muses. Here today, we get some questions answered about her upcoming debut novel, GILT, due out in May from Viking/Penguin.

BH: Welcome, Katy!

KL:  Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Beth!  It’s a pleasure to be here.

BH: Tell us a little about GILT. (To our studio audience, click here to read about Katy’s agonizing title-selection process.)

KL: I came up with the idea to write “something” about Catherine Howard several years ago.  She is often depicted as an air-headed little tramp, and I just felt there was something else about her that needed to be told. And then the voice of her best friend came to me, to do the telling.

BH: What were some of the joys of writing this book?

KL: I love being able to reach deeply into history, to live and breathe it. I love that I can find a connection to historical characters, and hopefully create that connection for my readers as well.

BH: If you had a daughter, which of Kitty’s attributes do you wish she shared? Which ones would you never want to see her display?

KL:  I love Kitty’s loyalty.  She has strong convictions and believes that friendship is sacred.  But it’s that same loyalty – a misguided loyalty – that gets her into trouble.  So I would wish for my daughter to value friendship, and to be loyal to it, but to have the insight to apply it to worthy people.

Katherine's Critique/Blogging Group - yes they are wearing endearingly dorky sweatshirts at SCBWI-LA 2011

BH: The other day we were discussing a writing slump you’d been in with the second book in this series. What do you do to get yourself out of a slump? Or do you wait for it to pass?

KL:  I think it depends on how deep the slump is. Sometimes, I can get over a block by just continuing to keep my bum in the chair, my fingers on the keyboard, and my mind spinning. Sometimes I have to write a kissing scene. If it gets really bad, I bake. If it gets worse, I clean. But the one we were talking about the other day is the worst I’ve ever experienced, and I cried. A lot. It helped to be able to talk about it with a good, close writing friend. But the only thing I could do was wait it out. My house was pretty clean that week.

BH: What does your workspace look like?

KL: No matter how hard I try to keep it tidy, my workspace is always a mess. It’s a little desk in the window bay of my bedroom, looking out into the back garden, where I can watch the hummingbirds and scrub jays. I’m surrounded by books, and a giant poster on the wall with the entire genealogical heritage of the British royal family on it. Plus my storyboard.

BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

Katherine's Storyboard

KL: Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. She is so honest. I suppose the ultimate appeal isn’t her description of craft, though her take on character, dialogue, and setting is spot on. For me, it’s the fact that she gives me permission to write a shitty a first draft, she acknowledges the radio station that plays constantly in my head, and she understands the pain and joy of it all.

BH: Any words or advice to aspiring writers for keeping the hope alive?

KL: Love what you do.  Don’t try to write to trends or stay ahead of them.  Don’t second-guess whether or not your concept will sell.  If a story and character come to you, write them down.  That passion will come through in your writing, and it won’t matter if it’s another vampire book, or that mermaids were so last year or that historical novels don’t sell.  Good writing sells.  Passion sells.  And in the long run, writing what you love is the ultimate reward.

BH: The end. Seriously,  just read Katherine’s response above, over and over again. Thanks, Katy!

ETA: Today through Tuesday, December 12, you can enter to win an ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) of GILT. See this post at the YA Muses for details!

Blog:  http://yamuses.blogspot.com

http://katherinelongshore.blogspot.com

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/KALongshore

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/katy.longshore?ref=ts

NiFtY Author Stephen Brayton

Stephen Brayton is the author of mystery novels Night Shadows and Beta. He also rocks the taekwondo scene.

BH: Stephen, thanks for visiting us today! What’s your one-paragraph pitch for your latest book, Beta?

SB: There’s this time traveling guy who flits around the universe in a British police call box. Usually he has a beautiful companion…wait, that’s the premise of one of my favorite TV shows. Let me try again.

Private Investigator Mallory Petersen, a fourth degree black belt with her own taekwondo school in Des Moines, Iowa, splits her time between teaching martial arts and her often inane cases. When she accepts a case to find Cheryl McGee’s kidnapped eight year old daughter, Mallory is pulled into the dark underworld of child pornography. The trail soon leads to the Quad Cities, where Mallory partners with an officer from the Special Case Squad. Mallory discovers that there’s more to the girl’s disappearance than her client let on. Adult readers will find grave issues tempered by humorous scenes.

BH: I notice one of your previous books, Night Shadows, is only available in eBook form, and I have some writer friends currently exploring publishing their manuscripts as eBooks. Can you tell us what influenced your decision to publish Night Shadows as an eBook?

SB: What influenced me? Two huge guys in black suits who slammed me against the wall, wrenched my arms behind my back, and told in calm but raspy voice that if I didn’t do as they asked, then bad things were going to happen to my collection of Batman comic books. Well, what else was I supposed to do?

Actually both books are eBooks. When I contracted with Echelon Press, they mentioned all new authors start with eBook format.

BH: You’re involved in Taekwondo – you’ve even got your own academy (click here to visit that site). How does your martial arts experience relate to your writing…or do you try to keep the two separate?

SB: Do you want to know about my experience getting knocked out at a tournament or the time I took on five guys one night outside a local bar? Oops, sorry I was dreaming there for a second. Actually I did get knocked out once, but I don’t think I suffered too many after effects. I’m sorry, what was the question? My favorite ice cream?

In Beta, I have Mallory Petersen use a lot of the skills I’ve practiced over the years. The challenge was to come up with different techniques she can use so the reader isn’t always getting the same front kick or punch. So I had to devise various scenarios where she can show off.

BH: What are you currently working on? Can you share any details?

SB: Does working on my tan count? You probably don’t care about the details. Oh, you mean writing projects.

I’ve started on a few different stories. I’m stalled in the sequel to Night Shadows trying to determine the direction of the story. The next Petersen story is finished so I’m gathering ideas for the third book. I’m also working on a thriller with a woman who uses Army Ranger skills to survive in the woods after being attacked by four men. I’ve also started (and don’t let it be passed around too much else my reputation will be totally shot. Lol) a romance. I’m hoping to collaborate with another author on this one.

BH: Which of your characters do you think is the most like you, and why?

SB: Mallory. Yes, she’s a woman, better looking, and way more talented, but she has a cool sense of humor, is intelligent, caring, and dedicated to her jobs.

BH: What does your workspace look like?

SB: Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, I do very little writing at home. I usually wait until I go to work. Since I work the graveyard shift, I rarely see anybody and I have a lot of free hours. So I’ll sit behind the desk or out in the lobby with either a notepad or the laptop. It’s quiet except when I turn on the classical music station and I’m usually not distracted by too much activity.

BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

SB: Any Dr. Seuss book. Especially Green Eggs and Ham. Awesome book.

Seriously, I tap into Todd Stone’s Novelist Boot Camp. It’s helped tremendously when I go through the editing phase.

BH: What is the best writing advice anyone has given you?

SB:  “Take a hike, loser, you bother me.” Oh, wait, that was what the last girl said when I asked her to dinner.  Then she proceeded to…well, we won’t get into that right now.

I think my Dad has helped me a lot. He encouraged me to keep up the writing. Also, when I’ve needed assistance, he’s told me I can pay him back “When I’m a rich and famous author.” Words like those that have kept me persevering.

BH: Stephen, thanks for visiting today! Everyone else, for more information on Stephen and his books, check out his website here, and his blog here. You can buy Night Shadows by going here. He’s also on Facebook and Twitter.

Note for weekend commenters: I’m out of town until Sunday evening, and won’t be able to moderate comments until then. This means if you’re a first-time commenter, your comment won’t show up until Sunday or Monday. Thanks for your patience!

NiFtY Author Erin Bow

Erin Bow first grabbed my attention when someone handed me a copy of Plain Kate (click here to read my review). I picked it up and could not stop. Her writing is so beautiful and…. oh, sorry. I just woke up from a fangirl swoon. Here’s our interview! Check out her pole-dancing writing studio! Exclamation points are a side-effect of fangirl-dom!

BH: You have been BUSY since I last visited your website. What are all these projects you have going? Wait, that would take forever. Could you choose one new project to describe in a paragraph for us here?

EB: Hmm, it’s hard to pick!  I guess most of my time is going into the first draft of my third novel, a dystopian for young adults called Children of Peace.  Here’s the pitch:

A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages.   The Children of Peace – sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals – are raised together in small, isolated schools called Prefectures.  Under the tutelage of gentle, monkish artificial intelligences, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of Prefecture Four.  Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace — even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water —  she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.

BH: Okay, yeah, I want to read it. You probably don’t need a beta reader, but if you do… Moving on. Tell us a little about your path to publication.

EB: Oh, dear.  The story of my path to publication makes people hate me, because I got so lucky.

I put a lot of research into agents, and landed the first one I queried, the one at the very tippy top of my list.  She worked with me for a couple of years on Plain Kate (it took some time, but in my defense I had two babies in there) and then sent it out to this amazing list of editors, seven of them, I think.  I not only got an offer right away, I got a bunch of offers (told you my agent was amazing), which ended up in an auction.  I was and still am thrilled to be with Arthur Levine, of Arthur A. Levine Books at Scholastic.  He’s a genius editor and a great cheerleader for the books he loves.

BH: I wouldn’t say your story makes me hate you. Much.

It has been months since I read Plain Kate, and I still keep going back to it when I want some inspiration for creating a great setting and mood combination. Did that mood come naturally to the writing of the book, or did you have to work at it? Please tell me you had to work at it.

EB: That mood comes courtesy of this 800-page volume of Russian fairytales I read just before starting Plain Kate.  I soaked them in and they took me over, and the mood just came tumbling out.

But of course there’s work.  A pet peeve of mine is historical fantasies where the world seems just a few inches deep, like a stage set.  Pretty: but not workable.  I think to really get a setting to work you have to know really nitty-gritty practical things.  What the people eat, and where they get it?  What do the tools of their trade look like?  What are they afraid of when the lights go out?  A good fantasy world needs an economy, an ecology, and a mythology.

Some of the things I needed to know for Plain Kate:  How do you polish a carving without sand paper?  How do you catch a chicken?   Keep your feet dry in rainy weather?  The research was truly endless, and I still feel as if it’s thin in places.

BH: You write both fiction and poetry, and some pretty great personal essays, too. How do you balance your different projects and the different parts of your brain that you get to tap into?

EB:  I try to set aside blocks of time.  Sometimes I, say, edit one book in the mornings and draft another in the afternoons.  Sometimes I give myself three weeks or a month to finish such and such a chunk, and do little else.  I try really hard not to switch back and forth between things.  Starting is always the hardest part, and starting over and over again is frustration and a waste of energy.  (And I do it all the time.  I have the attention span of a goldfish that’s off its meds.)

I also try to keep writing business out of my office: I do submissions and interviews and blogs and things  after the kids go to bed.  My office is dedicated to the writing part of writing.  I don’t have a phone or wifi.  (Recently some wifi has started leaking in.  I’m considering copper mesh.  See: goldfish, meds.)  When I’m in my office, I write.  When I’m not, I don’t.

BH: What does your workspace look like?

EB: I rented an office half a year ago – and with the exception of marrying my husband, it is the best choice I ever made.  The space is somewhat .. unusual. (Note: if the photos aren’t visible, you can click here to see Erin’s Office on Flickr.)

(Click on the images to make them bigger; enlarging them here was making them too blurry.)

People think I’m kidding when I say I work in a pole dancing studio, but I’m not.  My office is their spare room.  It can only be reached by crossing the dance floor — check those poles!  It’s cheap because I can’t use it at night, when the dance floor is, um, busy.  And it’s fun because when I need to clear my head I can swing around a little.


I furnished my office with a  hodgepodge of things that were either free or cheap – but it doesn’t feel makeshift.  It feels cozy and practical, like a yurt.  In this picture you can see the little loveseat (curbsourced) for curling up, a chair (Salvation army, recovered) handy for pulling up to the loveseat for coffee with friends, and of course a big desk (Goodwill) with lots of room for bulletin boards. You can see the picture boards here for Sorrow’s Knot (upper left) and Children of Peace (lower right).

My office is a highly ritualized space – and I refuse to feel silly about that.  I often find one needs to coax oneself closer to inspiration, the way a church coaxes one closer to God.  So my office is furnished with ritual objects and relics.


Here, you can see the objarka my editor sent me when bidding on Plain Kate, beside Plain Kate’s NYT review; a doorway shrine; a hand-cast pewter cat given by a good friend and some fiddly stones; the timer of short naps and the glass bird of holding when you want to start over; the tin angel celebrating the finish of my second novel, Sorrow’s Knot; the wall of things that mean stuff to me, including the porcelain birds that were my great grandmother’s, a map of Tenochtitlan, a bundle of grass from the monastery where I wrote my first book of poetry, a 1942 advertisement for a Waterman “Commando” fountain pen, and a reproduction of the original cover of A Room of One’s Own.

BH: Your office has inspired me. I am now working on converting our converted garage guest room into my writing studio. Must find a great big pole.

What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

EB: Mary Oliver’s Rules for the Dance, on meter in poetry.  It is basic – you don’t have to go into being able to scan, which is good, because I have dreadful trouble with scanning.  But it is also bottomlessly good, and I could read it over and over, just to soak it up.  I read that book, and Heaney’s Beowulf, and somehow decided that what the world really needed was a children’s version of Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight in 200 rhymed quatrains, beginning with a beheading and turning on an illicit kiss.  I can’t imagine why I can’t get that published.

BH: (I have difficulty with scanning, too. Glad to hear I’m not alone in this.) What is the best writing advice anyone has given you?

EB: Ribe Tuchus – keep your butt in the chair.  Sit still.

My biggest enemy, as you’ve probably guessed by now, is inertia: the reistance to starting.  But if I promise myself I’ll just Ribe Tuchus for ten minutes, keep my hand moving across the page – often that’s all it takes to stop hating myself and wanting to get a job in a bank.

Every day I have to figure that out again.  (Goldfish.)  Ribe Tuchus, Ribe Tuchus, Ribe Tuchus.

BH: Thank you, Erin, for taking the time! For more on Erin and her writing, you can visit her (very awesome website) at erinbow.com She’s also on twitter as @erinbowbooks