Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Talking With YA Author, Barbara Ehrentreu

Today, my guest is MuseItUp YA author, Barbara Ehrentreu.  Barbara's coming of age novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, will be released by MuseItUP in September.

Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.
I’ve been writing seriously for about ten years.  When I attended a Writer’s Week Conference at my college where I was going for my Masters degree, I realized the published authors there were very much like me. They liked my writing, too. So I decided I could be a published author. Anyway, I loved to write, so I thought it would be fun.:)
Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?
I guess I am probably a part-time writer, because I don’t make my living with writing, and I don’t have a set writing schedule.
What influences your writing?
What I write about is my own life and the life of my children. Also, I am probably influenced by all my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen King, John Irving, Paula Danziger, Louis Carroll, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jayne Eyre. It’s all in my head, though I couldn’t pick out which one influences me more.
Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?
No, but it is my first published book. I have two stories and several poems and flash stories published online. One of the stories is a children’s story and one is an adult story.
Why did you choose to write a children's story?
I was going into a children’s writing workshop and I needed some chapters to bring to class. So I wrote a few chapters and made my MC a young teenager. I know a lot about kids, because I taught for so many years and interacted with kids of all ages. Also I have two daughters, one of which inspired me to write about her. 
What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
Even at the beginning I needed to cut a lot of my writing. When I had what I thought was a good beginning I started writing and kept on writing until I hit a snag. I couldn’t figure out the ending and it didn’t come to me. So I put the manuscript down and that’s when I wrote the two stories that were published. When I realized I needed help I went to a Children’s Authors Bootcamp where I learned how to extend my plot line for both my MC and my secondary character. When I started working with the plot for my secondary character, I saw how her plot would end, and after I saw that, the ending for my MC came to me. By the end of the Bootcamp, I had all of my characters' plots and a great ending.
What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
I think with everything that is involved in getting a book published that it is better to have a professional traditional publisher do all this “dirty” work. Plus someone else is more objective when it comes to getting your book ready.
What is your marketing strategy?
I’m planning to blanket Facebook and Twitter with my name and cover. Then I’m going to be part of a virtual blog exchange with only MG/YA authors in September when my book is released. Also I have a book trailer. I am doing a webinar and reading excerpts from my novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. Plus my publisher is sending my book out for reviews. Besides this I have a Blog Talk Radio show where I plan to talk about my book and publicize it. I have asked some book celebrities to add a blurb about my book if they liked it. Also I am going to have two book signings and hope to use kindlegraph to sign them for people.
What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?
I think any author with only one book doesn’t need an agent if they are published or about to be published. But someone with more than one book and plans to put out more might need one. Also authors with unusual books might also need one. 
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
There are two places you can go to find out more about me and my writing. One is my author        page:
I am also on Facebook as barbaraehrentreu and on Twitter as Barbehr. 
Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
All children’s writers should belong to SCBWI, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and you should know about children. Children don’t like to be hit on the head with ideas, so being too heavy handed with morals of stories won’t work. Write what you know and especially for children write about what you like. Also research the market and make sure there aren’t too many of the book you want to write. Making trips to the library and local bookstores to check out children’s books is a must. Besides all this you should become a member of a critique group, both online or in person where they will examine your work and help you to revise it with their suggestions.
12.  Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a Math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain.With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky Junior quarterback Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. After Jennifer’s the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to sleep over to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and become popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?
If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor - Coming September, 2011 from MuseItUp Publishing

Barbara's Meanderings

Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages


  1. Barbara, congratulations on the forthcoming release of "Jennifer." You've captured such a timely story, the eternal theme of teenagers wanting to be popular and the mean "friends" they have to deal with. I hope it reaches a wide teenage audience and helps ease lots of growing pangs.

  2. Pat, glad you could stop by. I'm sure Barbara will appreciate your kind words.

  3. Hi Barbara and Penny. Great interview. Hope this book jumps off the charts, Barbara.

  4. Joylene, thanks for commenting. I'm sure Barbara appreciates your kind words.

  5. Great interview and sounds like a terrific book.

  6. Roseanne, thanks for commenting. I have read Barbara's book and she did a fabulous job of tackling a very difficult subject.

  7. Penny,
    Thank you for inviting me. You have been with me during every part of the publishing process from the pitch to being my line editor. I am so happy to be here:)

    Thank you to all the people who commented. Pat, Joylene and Roseanne I also hope my book will take off and kids will read it. It's my first time and I can't wait fory first sale!!! I'm trying to get it out to as many groups as possible. I did a live book reading webinar last Sunday night which is available to be seen. You can find the link on my Facebook page.

  8. Very thorough and informative interview. It's always interesting to know what goes on inside another writer's head.

    Contemp YA seems to be a strong market. I hope the book really sells, Barbara!

  9. Barbara, sorry I didn't get your comment posted sooner. I've been having some computer problems today. It's always a pleasure hosting authors and especially those I've been able to call "friend."

  10. Anne, glad you enjoyed the interview and thanks for commenting.

  11. Penny, thank you for fixing the name.:) Don't worry about the comment posting. I once posted someone's comment days after the post. Moderating is hard to keep up with and computer problems are such a pain.:) So glad we were friends before fellow authors.:)

    Anne, thank you very much. I always like to find out more about other writers. And I echo your comment!!! Me too!!!

  12. I have read such glowing comments about this book. It is an especially important topic for this age group. Loads of best wishes for great success with this, your first published book. Where did you take the children's writing boot camp? I think I need it!

  13. Janet, I am sure Barbara appreciates your kind words and I agree with you.