AUTHOR: Shellie Neumeier
BOOK TITLE: The Wishing Ring
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1. Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
Married for over 20 years, my husband and I have four wonderful kiddos and two goofy greyhounds. After receiving my undergraduate degree in Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, I went on to acquire an early childhood education certificate. I also served in youth, children’s, special needs and family ministries for over twenty-two years.
Now I enjoy teaching my teens how to drive and chauffeuring my preteens across the Ohio countryside. And once in a while, I love to read big people books (you know the kind without pictures).
I write young adult and mid-grade fiction because it keeps me away from my husband’s power tools and because every now and then, I don’t have the choice, it just takes over. My best inspiration comes from God and the occasional walk along a country road with her greyhounds.
2. Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
My youngest two children contributed to a mid-grade novel last year which MuseItYoung published this winter. It’s entitled The Wishing Ring. Here’s a little blurb:
The King’s castle stands alone atop Grand Ur Mountain, but even that does not match the solitude surrounding Princess Ali. With a carrot-shaped nose, she trudges through her princess duties with the most unfortunate face. With her pet greybar (a creature with the head of a greyhound, body of a polar bear, and wings of an eagle) as her only friend, Ali dreams of becoming a beautiful princess.
When Cory, a ninja-in-training, drops through the royal chimney, he does not intend to enlist the help of anyone, much less a girl, but she holds the key to the Creator’s map. The ancient map marks the secret hiding place of the magic Wishing Ring, a ring grants the wearer one wish.
Cory’s mysterious need for the ring and Ali’s dream of a beauty send the pair to a forgotten land. Only the war ravaged clan of Odana can translate the map’s key. But even if they manage to find a translator, the question remains—can they beat the Ogre who guards the ring?
3. How long have you been writing?
Not long compared too many. My first novel, Driven, began in the spring of 2010. I contributed to a few non-fiction pieces before that, but my long-nursed fear of grammar kept any writing fancies at bay. It took a lot of nudging before I took the stories I told and wrote them down. Now, it seems I’m a bit addicted.
4. What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
My penchant for power tools coupled with my knack for accidents inspired my husband’s campaign to get me writing. I guess that happens when a stay-at-home mom watches her children grow and finds herself with far too much free time. Of course a good sprinkle of literary frustration doesn’t hurt. You know the old rant, “why aren’t there any good books for my kids to read,” bit. Of course there’s tons of great fiction for young adults and tweens already available, but it’s fun to see if I can add to the growing list.
5. Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
I do outline. My typical story begins with a day or two of serious scene-by-scene plotting, including internal goal setting, external goal development, character growth, and lots of conflict. All that work doesn’t mean the story doesn’t take wide turns while in progress, however. There’s always room for a little seat-of-the-pants work along the way.
6. What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Once a story concept takes root, the characters become key for me. I work them inside out so their growth and development moves the story along.
7. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finding time to write in a household filled with distractions is the hardest part of being an author. I don’t have an office, inside or outside my home, so I must rely on alone time (and motivation, which has been known to be more elusive than time, periodically) to get me writing. Summers prove to be the biggest challenge, which is why The Wishing Ring and its sequel, The King’s Seal (to be released 12/2012) were co-plotted with my youngest children. If you can’t beat them, rope them in.
8. What are some of the challenges in your writing process?
My writing struggles with saggy middles and a fierce adjective addiction. Fortunately, I have some great crit partners who prod me through those bland middles (my husband once said, “throw the fire alarm, that ought to get things moving,” so I did and it worked—go figure) and I’m slowly learning how to carve off the extra descriptors before an editor sees the page.
9. Describe your writing space.
I would love to say my office is one of those warehouse lofts with super high ceilings and tons of workspace, oh and a huge wall of windows overlooking a river, but in the real world I work at the kitchen counter once my children have been sent off to school. It’s crowded and usually sticky, but it works.
10. What books or authors have influenced your writing?
One of the biggest influences in my writer’s world has been Frank Perretti. Great stuff! He makes you really stop and wonder what’s going one beyond this world—beyond what we can see.
11. What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for
A Summer in Oakville, co-written with Lisa Lickel
The Wishing Ring (Adventures of Ally and Cory Series, book 1)
The Kings Seal, TBR 12/2012 (Adventures of Ally and Cory Series, book 2)
A Christmas in Boerne, TX Anthology, TBR 11/2012 (working title)
12. What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
If you have a story, write it. Then have folks who care about you read it. And then find people who are authors or aspiring authors read your story to critique it. But don’t panic when they come back with things to change. Take a day, nurse any wounds they may have inflicted, and go back to your story. Ask yourself, are they right? Would the story be better, if. . .? You’ll be amazed at how fabulous your writing becomes when you share it and polish it.
13. Where can people learn more about you and your work?
The Wishing Ring Exerpt:
“Your nose…” The boy poked the air before her face, so she dropped his ankle roughly. “Ow!” he screeched.
Ally removed the tie from Wakoshoo's collar, ignoring the boy and his comment.
“I mean…oh…whatever. Thanks for getting me out of there.” Then a dark look curled his upper lip. “Hate to have the king catch me. This is Castle Ur, is it not?” He slapped his hands against his body sending small puffs of ash through the room.
The clouds filled Ally’s nose making it itch and twitch, but the boy seemed unaffected.
“I'm Cory,” he said, offering her his hand.
Instead of taking it, Ally cocked her head to the side and demanded, “Why were you in my chimney?”
He was toying with her. Ally could tell by the way he drummed his finger against his nose and stared off into space, as if he considered her question at great lengths. It made her want to scream, but instead she pursed her lips and tapped her foot. Then he leaned over to retrieve a small ashen bag, which he clipped to his belt. His movement sent the simple, leather sheath at his other side, swaying.
A sword? What could a boy of his…condition have need for a sword?
Ally motioned to Wakoshoo who lopped over and plunked down at her feet, yawning. If
Wakoshoo could dismiss this boy’s armaments so quickly, she decided she could, too.
Ally squared her shoulders and stood tall. “As Princess of Ur, I command you to tell me what you were doing in my chimney.” She put all her strength behind the glare she shot at him.
Ally's mouth popped open. No one ever dared laugh at me. Not to my face, at least.