Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interview with author Rebecca Ryals Russell

Today, my guest is children's author Rebecca Ryals Russell. Her books are coming to us from MuseItUp publishing

1.     Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.
I’ve written all my life-poems, song lyrics, stories-and illustrated or used photography for them. In college I had quite a bit published. I didn’t really pursue becoming an ‘author’ until I retired from teaching and could concentrate on it.

2.     Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?
As my family would attest, I’m definitely a full-time writer. I sit at my desk in the morning, usually around 9:30 (after riding the bike and eating breakfast) and go to bed around 2 or 3am. The entire time I’m writing one story or another, working on promotional things, emailing, surfing writing blogs, etc.

3.     What influences your writing?
When a story idea pops into my head, it’s like a pimple you can’t leave alone. You pick at it until it festers and has to come out. Eeww.

4.     Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?
This is my first published novel. I have had short stories, poetry and photography published many years ago.

5.     Why did you choose to write a children's story?
I wrote a children’s story for the same reason I became a teacher. I love to lead a child to discovery and wonder then enlightenment. I’m hoping this series will do that for the readers. It’s meant to open eyes.

6.     What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
This baby has been growing for over thirty years, if you include all of the starts and stops  and thinking I did over the course of those years. It took me six months to plan the series. I had to create my world of Dracwald, every aspect of it. Then I researched demons, dragons, magical creatures, Latin derivations and baby names. Next I created my characters. Then it took me six months to write the original story. It ended up being gargantuan and I broke it into the first two books Odessa and Harpies. For the next two years, at least, I revised and rewrote Odessa until I changed it to first person point-of-view and learned who Myrna really was. Then the story flowed and stuck. The shopping around for a publisher took another year.  

7.     What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
Had I not found MuseItUp Publishing, I was ready to self-publish. In today’s publishing world it’s a viable method for getting your book to the public. The only draw-back has been authors who do not have their books professionally edited before self-pubbing. That gives all self-published books a bad name. I did the rounds of agents and publishers for two years, receiving many rejections. With each one I revised and looked for weak spots. By the time I became aware of MuseItUp, met Lea and her editors and fell in love with the family atmosphere they exuded, my story was ready. And they said so, too.

8.     What is your marketing strategy?
Get my name in front of as many faces as I can. In a good way, of course. I belong to thousands of social sites and blogs-well, maybe not that many, but some days it feels like it. I started building my platform when I started writing the book and now, about five years later, it’s just taking off. I’ve been asked to speak at my first Writer’s Conference in April and I’m so excited.

9.     What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?
I personally don’t know what an agent would provide that I can’t do for myself. Besides, our cut is already so pitiful, I’d hate to lose even more of it. If you self-publish, promote your brains out and have a salable, good product-the big traditional publisher will find YOU.

10.  Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
As I said, I’m all over the Internet. The first place to look is my website. The Official Website of Rebecca Ryals Russell, Author at http://rryalsrussell.com. I’ve been working hard on the site and recently added some interactive pages-maps, illustrations of the monsters and Majikals showing where they appear on the map and more. I’m soon adding a shop with items portraying my book covers and illustrations.

11.  Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
Join Social Sites aimed at writing for children. http://YALitChat.com is the best along with my own grog (group blog) http://teenwordfactory.com where a bunch of us MG & YA authors write posts about writing for kids. http://Flapjacket.com is good. Others include http://obscurekidlitauthors.blogspot.com/, http://Totally4YA.com , http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com. There are many, many more. Watch my blog for a future listing. And join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) then attend one of their conferences every year. Talk to other children’s writers via blogs, Facebook, Twitter.

12.  Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

Myrna Ashlin Watts is a high school Senior in Jacksonville, Fl when she is transported to a bizarre and primal planet corrupted by demon-dragons. And they want her DEAD. Her problem is, she has been recruited to kill them, too.
Reluctantly, and knowing it is her only way to get back home, she agrees to lead an army of six teens called The Vigorios- battling dragons and monsters while crossing swamps and mountains, forests and seas. She wrangles with mental scars of a demon attack when she was 16 and receiving a vision of those same demons killing her brother 2 years later, when three very different men join her quest—a seasoned demon/dragon-slayer who irritates but beguiles her, a tender and sweet mentor in whom she trusts completely and a roguishly handsome Scientist who sets her senses aflame. How is she expected to lead the others and keep everyone safe with so much inner turmoil? Whom can she trust, if anyone, even herself? How can anyone expect her to be a leader? Much less one who leads an army of kids in a Holy battle?
Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?

Conscientia, a Prequel, is due out September 2011 and Harpies, the next installment in the series is due out January 2012. The remaining two books in the series remain to be written.

A  MG series, Stardust Warriors, is based on a similar storyline. Zarena is due out July 2011. Jeremiah - November 2011. Laman - February 2012. Mercy – April 2012 and Magaelbash – June 2012. The others in the series remain to be written.

I recently began writing a series of Picture Books based on the Majikals of Caldelub Island and other places around Dracwald. I hope to illustrate them as well.


  1. Interesting interview. Enjoyed learning more about Rebecca and her writing.

  2. Susanne, as always, it's a pleasure hearing from you.

  3. Interesting interview, Penny. I keep learning more and more about Rebecca. Congratulations on your book. Best of luck to you.

  4. Bev, thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

  5. Penny, First of all, thanks so much for hosting me. Susanne and Beverly, it was great seeing you here, thanks for stopping by.

  6. Rebecca, it was my pleasure. I wish you success.