Today, I'm pleased to welcome back author Beverly Stowe McClure. Bev's here to talk about her most recent release, Tumbleweed Christmas.
AUTHOR: Beverly Stowe McClure
BOOK TITLE: Tumbleweed Christmas
PUBLISHER: 4 RV Publishing LLC
1. Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
If anyone had told me I’d be a writer someday, I’d have thought they were crazy. When I was a child I hated to write. I hated to read. Then I grew up and became a mother and teacher. I know. That’s another story. Anyhow, as I read great Newbery books with my students and Dr. Seuss to my sons, I discovered what I’d been missing: reading was fun. Being the great adventurer that I was ¾ haha ¾ I decided to try writing. And here I am today. My short stories and articles have been published in leading children’s magazines, such as Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr., and Ladybug. One article was reprinted in a Scot-Foresman PreK-K anthology. I have five novels for tweens and teens out, one early reader and one picture book, with three more stories under contract. If my former teachers could see me today, they’d likely be shocked.
2. Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
Tumbleweed Christmas is a story for early readers about one girl’s desire to make Christmas happy for her sisters, even though their father is in the hospital, and they have no money for a Christmas tree.
3. How long have you been writing?
Since about 1990.
4. What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
Reading great Newbery winners and honor books with my students and seeing how much most of them loved the stories made me realize how important good books are to children. I soon found myself reading for enjoyment, something I’d never before done. All of my previous reading had been for school assignments. Then I started thinking how interesting it would be to see children and teens reading books I had written. So I decided to try, and I haven’t stopped since.
5. Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
I don’t outline. Usually the idea for a character comes to me. A little voice often whispers in my ear, telling me what his problem is. Or a first line plays around in my head, and I want to know where that thought is going. I jot the voice or sentence down then think about the characters. Who whispered to me? Who is that first sentence about? I start writing to see where the voice takes me. Sometimes it goes nowhere and I have to start from scratch again. Other times, I have a story with a plot. I love for that to happen.
6. What comes first: the plot or the characters?
With some stories the plot has come first, sometimes from a place I’ve visited, like Charleston, SC, or Vicksburg, MS. Or a tumbleweed might blow across my path so I have to write about it. I’ve also found the plot for a story in newspaper articles. In those cases it’s the plot. Often, like I mentioned earlier, a character tells me a secret or a problem they have, and the story develops from the character.
7. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Since my latest book is my first early reader, it was a learning experience writing short sentences, watching the words, not making it too complicated.
8. What are some of the challenges in your writing process?
The teacher in me cringes at grammar errors. I spend a lot of time making sure the sentences are not fragments or run ons, and the punctuation is correct. I know I shouldn’t worry about the details on the rough draft, but I keep going back and correcting mistakes instead of finishing and then going back. This is one reason I take months, even years, to write a novel. I’m working on this.
9. Describe your writing space.
My sanctuary (what I call my writing room) is a small extra bedroom. It contains my desk, computer, file cabinets, record player that plays cassettes, CD’s, and records. A sofa that folds into a bed and a bookshelf that over floweth with books and magazines. It has a large sliding window overlooking the pasture. I can watch birds building their nests in the trees, the hummingbirds eating nectar I provide, and the clouds as they drift across the sky.
10. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Play the piano, genealogy, and scrap booking. Also read.
11. What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?
I think e-books will become more popular with all the fancy readers coming out. My iPad is great because with my poor vision I can enlarge the print and read so much easier. I also think print books will remain for people like me that still like the feel of a book in their hands and don’t have to worry about dropping it and breaking it.
12. What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for
My current books are an early reader, Tumbleweed Christmas; a picture book, Frankie’s Perfect Home; Tween contemporary, Just Breeze; YA novels Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines (recent finalist in the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and finalist in the eBook Global Awards; Rebel in Blue Jeans; Listen to the Ghost; and Secrets I Have Kept. My forthcoming books are a YA contemporary, Life on Hold; MG historical Scattered to the Winds; and a picture book, Weird Noises in the Night.
13. What is your marketing plan?
I have a virtual book tour in December. I post news about the book on my blog, website, and various sites I belong to. Book signings at the library and bookstores are scheduled for November. I also plan to enter contests and whatever else comes to mind.
14. What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Never give up. Tape those nice letters from agents and editors above your desk, if they have encouraging comments, to remind yourself that you can do it. You just need to find the right agent/publisher. Keep trying.
15. Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Today was Christmas Eve. My house was dark and sad. We had no Christmas tree. Mom said trees cost money. Dad was in the hospital. She did not have any extra money. I saved a dollar from my school lunch money. I was going to surprise her and buy a tree.
I pulled on my coat. I put my baseball cap on my head. I tucked my baseball glove under my arm. My glove went everywhere with me. Dad gave it to me. We used to play ball, before he got sick."