AUTHOR: Barbara Ehrentreu
BOOK TITLE: After
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing
BUY LINK: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/coming-soon/pre-order-specials/after-detail
Please tell us about yourself.
I was a Reading teacher, but I am now retired for several years. I live in Stamford, CT with my family. I am the author of two YA novels. When I’m not writing novels I sometimes write short stories and I always write poetry, especially in April. Some of my poems are published in anthologies and I have a few short stories online.
Please tell us your latest news.
My second YA novel, After, is being released October 24th.
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I would say I am a part-time writer when I am not in the middle of a novel. If I am working on a novel then I work on it full time. I usually write when I am inspired. Since I have a lot of time during the day I try to write then, but mostly I write at night. The best time for me for writing is either the afternoon or late at night. Other times I try to spend with my family.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing poetry when I was younger, but I didn’t really write anything until I took a workshop course for my Masters degree. I wrote this story I called Geshtumble that I had told to my brother and then to my children as a bedtime story. While we were in between homes and living in a hotel, I wrote it as a book. I sent it several places, but I never pursued it.
What inspired you to write your first book?
As part of my Masters degree I needed to attend Authors Week at Manhattanville and I saw a workshop headed by Paula Danziger. I had to write three pages to get into her workshop. I decided to write it based on my daughter’s own experiences and Paula liked it. She helped me by reading and cutting it and showing me how to write for YA and children. She inspired me to continue writing it.
What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I like to cook and also I exercise every other day. Also I like to watch TV and spend time with my daughters. We also like to go to the movies when we can and when there is something worth seeing. Now that the weather is getting cooler I might start walking along the shore.
What are your thoughts about promotion?
I think this is probably the most important part of writing. People need to know about your book and where they can find it. I don’t like it, though, when there are too many messages about your book. Some authors do this and it only makes me want to delete the messages and not read their book. I think the best way to promote your book is by telling your friends and also getting it out there to your audience. Joining groups that will be interested in your book is a big plus. Putting it everywhere there are readers is also important. I am still learning how to do this and probably should have done it a little more for my first book. Now I understand how important it it to let people know as soon as possible about your book. I am trying that this time.
What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
When I first started writing I was told I needed to cut my words. My biggest compliment came from reviews that said I really got the teen voice and that my book was a must for all teens.
Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
Well, I did try to be in the mind of a teen. Also, I have learned to write a much more spare prose due to the constant editing and rewriting needed.
Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
No, not really. If I am writing a novel the only time I get blocked is when the plot doesn’t work. Then I have to go back and actually diagram what I want to happen in the scene. I had to do that in After and I was stuck until I got the plot right. Otherwise, I can usually write whenever I need to write. If I ever did get a block I would probably go for a walk, because that always helps to get me started writing. Usually I will write poetry during or after a walk.
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is MuseItUp Publishing and I connected with them during the Muse Online Writers Conference. I pitched my story to them and they accepted it. I knew Lea Schizas from the conference and also from being in one of her Muse critique groups online.
What are your current projects?
Right now I am working on another YA novel called Footsteps on the Sand, which I am taking to the Children’s Novel Workshop in Santa Cruz, CA. There I will meet with an agent and an editor who will critique my work. There will be teens there too and they will get to read my story too. I am excited to do this and hope it will enrich my manuscript.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
After is about a fifteen year old girl named Lauren Walstein whose father calls home while having a heart attack. The story is about what happens after the phone call and how his illness and bypass surgery affect her relationships both within her family and with her friends. There is also a romance as well as a mean girl, of course.
What genre do you write in and why?
I mostly write YA, but I have written some MG and one very young story for a picture book. I also have written an an adult story and an adult romance/adventure/mystery which I still consider a WIP.
What is your experience working or being around children or teens?
I was a teacher for the elementary grades full-time for 12 and a half years. Also I have been a middle school teacher too. My experience also includes being both a Reading and a Writing teacher and supervisor. I have also worked as a Camp Head Counselor and I have two daughters whose teen years are great for my writing.
What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
I would like my readers to understand the experience of having a loved one become very ill. For younger readers whose parents or grandparents might be in this same situation I would like them to be able to see how someone dealt with it. Also, I want them to enjoy the story of a budding romance.
What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
This was started during NaNoWriMo in 2006 while my own husband was in the hospital after having a heart attack and undergoing bypass surgery. However, I couldn’t finish it due to the constant back and forth from home to hospital. Originally it was called When My Life Changed. So I left it alone and didn’t even work on it until 2010 after I reread it. Then I left it another two years and worked on it in 2012. In 2013 I decided to revise it again and thought maybe I might be able to publish it. It was accepted for publication in November of 2013 and then while editing it I decided to change the title to After.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
No I don’t outline before I write. What happens is a sentence will come into my mind. After maybe a week of this sentence rolling around in my mind I finally decide it is right and then I usually go to my computer and write it down. Usually this starts an entire story that usually is at least 2000 words. Sometimes this becomes a novel, although not always. If it is becoming a novel I stop at a certain point very early in the story and I develop the characters so I can see where the plot will go. Usually the character’s motivations move the plot and I don’t usually have to stop and outline. Except during After when one scene did not go as I wanted and I actually needed to storyboard it to see how it should go. Mostly it was the sequence of actions that weren’t right and outlining helped to fix that. So you can see I am basically a “pantser”.
What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
I look for strong characters and a good and fun story to read. I read all kinds of books, but I love romance and mysteries. I also like urban fantasy if it is done right. I usually read the first couple of paragraphs and decide if I want to read it after reading the blurb and seeing the cover. The story has to catch me right away and usually it’s the writer’s voice that will do that.
What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
What I really hate is when I have read a novel and gotten invested in both the characters and the story and then the writer just ends it without tying up the loose ends. I always feel like I’ve wasted my time when the ending doesn’t make sense at all or doesn’t bring any kind of solution. I also really don’t like when I find too many typos, because that means it was poorly edited by the author. Every author reads the final galley and they should be able to find the little typos that might occur. This also might be because I am also an editor and I proofread almost everything.