Today's guest is children's author, Lisa Ard. Lisa has working on a series and is here to talk about the first in the group, Dream Seekers: Fright Flight.
AUTHOR: Lisa Ard
BOOK TITLE: Dream Seekers (Book One): Fright Flight
PUBLISHER: Puddletown Publishing Group, Inc.
Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.
Seven years ago I took a course on writing children’s books. However, I was busy with career and family life (aka two small children) -- so I didn’t get around to actually writing. I repeated the course last fall. Now when my children are in school, I set aside time to write.
Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?
I’m a part-time writer, part-time business consultant, part-time volunteer and full-time mom. It’s a regular juggling routine sometimes. I don’t write on a regular schedule, but decide each week when I can fit in the hours to write.
What influences your writing?
My children influence my writing in what they do and what they say. Also my favorite books and authors flavor my writing. For instance right now I’m starting a new project and I’m reminded of Roald Dahl’s unambiguous outlook on bad parents. I hope to emulate his wit and not come off as snarky.
Is this your first published work? What other types of writing have you done?
If sales of the first Dream Seeker book take off, then I’ll follow up with more books in the series. In fact, I already have the second story ready for submission, in hopes of that. I also have a couple picture book manuscripts that I’d like to pursue.
Why did you choose to write a children's story?
Being a kid is such a great time in life, when anything is possible. Children’s books represent that, so there’s great freedom in writing the most fantastical story one can imagine.
Besides offering a great adventure, the Dream Seeker books address the changes that come with growing older. Being twelve years old can be challenging especially for a dream seeker. How Patrick responds to situations in his dreams can mean the difference between a sweet dream and a living nightmare.
I hope kids will relate to this, no matter what the changes in their life may be – physical and emotional changes, family changes, new schools, new neighborhoods, etc. They may not be able to control those changes, but they can think about how those changes affect them and how they respond to them.
What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
I was thinking about all the children’s fantasy and adventure books I liked and I asked myself, what’s a new way for a character to experience another world? The answer was through dreams.
With that idea, I started writing and writing and writing. Then I went back and applied the techniques I’d learned in class about character, plot, scene, the opening page, etc. I created a chapter outline to map the plot and chapter arcs. I used software tools to check word count and vocabulary level. I also worked with my critique group to improve the manuscript.
I submitted a query electronically to Puddletown Publishing and they asked for the full manuscript. Once submitted, it took about 4 weeks for their reader to get to it. Then I received a publishing offer.
I worked with an editor to enhance the manuscript and learned I like to overuse exclamation points. I’ve since killed that habit. I had some input on illustrations and book cover design, but for the most part, they’ve handled the rest.
What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
I think we’ll see more and more self-publishing and other non-traditional publishing, as writers want to see their work in print and they have the tools to make it happen. That should mean a greater supply of books to read, which begs the questions: “will there be an increase in demand?” and “how will authors differentiate their work from so many others?”
The good news is that there is a rise in tools to help market and review books. Readers don’t care who publishes a book. They simply want access to good books.
What is your marketing strategy?
I plan to focus on author visits (both local and virtual) at schools and libraries in order to reach my target audience (readers aged 7-10). I will also be utilizing various on-line tools to get the word out, such as my website (), Amazon, Facebook and Twitter and blog tours. Rather than posting notes to “buy my book” I want to engage readers by hosting contests, offering book/memorabilia giveaways, posting games and puzzles related to the book, etc. Friends and family will also be important in spreading the word. My publisher will be submitting review copies and marketing the book as well.
What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?
It would be nice to have an agent; that’s one more person plugging your work. Although it seems almost as difficult to get an agent as it is to make it past the slush pile of the traditional publishers. I don’t have one, but I don’t knock it either.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
I’ll be posting book club questions, contests and other activities related to the Dream Seeker books. Plus readers can enter a book review or send me their ideas for future dream adventures.
Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
Yes! Take a class on writing children’s literature if you can. You’ll not only learn about the world of writing and publishing, you’ll meet others involved in writing and illustrating. This is how I found my first critique group.
Join groups like the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and take advantage of all the materials, conferences, critiques and resources offered.
Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.
Dream Seeker: Fright Flight is the first book in my middle-grade fantasy series.
Being twelve years old can be challenging, but add to that the unusual ability to experience dreams as reality and you begin to understand Patrick’s need for a little self-control. A “sweet” dream devouring the world’s largest ice cream sundae can end with an enormous stomachache. A fall from a bike means Patrick wakes with a broken arm. Try explaining that to the emergency room doctor! Oh wait -- that would be Patrick’s mom. She’s a dream seeker too, as are Patrick’s sister and brother. If Patrick follows the family’s dream-seeking rules he can have cool nighttime adventures. But if he forgets…