Friday, July 30, 2010


Somehow it managed to sneak up on me. This summer has been so busy and I've been so wrapped up in my rewrite and traveling that I didn't realize it was already time for SCBWI-LA! Squee!!

My son and I did our first Skype call last night. (Gotta love technology and the 10-year-olds who are so eager to try it out!) Hopefully it will work smoothly when I'm in a hotel over a hundred miles away. My daughter still likes to hear Goodnight Moon every night, so we'll try the virtual tuck in tomorrow night, now with live video :)

I've packed a stack of books that I want to get signed, enough clothes to get me through the conference and then some, and of course, my computer. But I always manage to forget something...

Hope your weekend plans are just as wonderful!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Author Spotlight on: Mary Hershey

Back when I was a newbie with a completed novel and no idea what to do with it, I was lucky enough to meet Mary Hershey. Not only did she tell me about SCBWI and introduce me to the concept of blogging, she gave me encouragement as a writer. What a shot in the arm to have a published writer tell you that your writing doesn't suck! I've been her devoted fan ever since.

Her most recent book, LOVE AND POLLYWOGS FROM CAMP CALAMITY, came out earlier this month and at least one young middle grade reader was thrilled to meet Mary at Chaucer's in Santa Barbara. (My daughter still brags about it since my son wasn't along :))

Another older *ahem* reader was thrilled to see her name on the Acknowledgments page. Yes, my name in print, for the first time, on a book for children -- woo-hoo!! Another in the long line of firsts I've experienced because of Mary.

Mary blogs with Robin LaFevers over at Shrinking Violet Promotions, maintains her own blog, The Taming of the Muse, and writes wonderful books for MG and YA readers with super long titles like, 10 Lucky Things That Have Happened to Me Since I Nearly Got Hit by Lightning. Say that 10 times fast!

Congrats on the release of your third Effie book! When you wrote My Big Sister is So Bossy…did you ever imagine you’d be writing more stories about Effie?
This was not sold as a series, but each as a stand-alone novel. But even as I wrote MY BIG SISTER, I left a tiny back door open that invited a second book, and then I did the same in TEN LUCKY THINGS. It was more for my benefit—a tiny placeholder and promise to Effie that I’d be back with her.  Authors are sneaky like that. 

Why such a short title for this book?
My editor, Wendy Lamb, loved the title of my first book and didn’t touch it. On books two and three, however, everyone in New York City was invited to collaborate (eensy exaggeration). Miranda Mayberry, the talented artist that does the cover art for the Effie books came up with the title for the second book. The third book’s title endured a similar challenging start in life. I had wanted a shorter title just to mix things up a bit. My working title was Camp Ringworm, which didn’t work for anyone except me. Having super long titles is fun in concept, but can really get a girl winded at a conference when everyone asks you the title of your books. Multiply that by three long titles and I need a chair and a glass of water. So we compromised on book three.  It is slightly shorter. I love to be asked the name of this one. I can actually say it in one breath!

You’ve been compared more than once to Beverly Cleary. Do you think it’s a good comparison?
In my view, that’s like being compared to Gandhi or Lady Gaga. Beverly Cleary was my BAF (Best Author Forever) when I was a girl. So, do I think it is a good comparison? I think it is a better aspiration than comparison. She has influenced me, but she feels so far out of my league! I do work hard at emulating her gift of deeply layered comedy. Her characters are funny, but they are much, much more.

Wow, I don't think I've ever seen Ghandi and Lady Gaga mentioned in the same sentence before :) Much as I love Effie, I have to say Stump’s story really captured me. Do you have more adventures planned for him?
Thanks, Sherrie—I loved Stump’s journey. I would be so gratiying to write more about him. He still feels very present for me. I left one of those back doors open for him, too. Unfortunately, Liesa Abrams, the wonderful editor that I collaborated with on THE ONE WHERE A KID no longer works at Razorbill.  That makes a sequel very unlikely.  (Mary Hershey taking a moment of silence.)

Bummer! I think I'll join you in that moment...
You also work as a personal coach for writers. How did that come about?
I’m certified as a Personal Executive Coach, and my original mission was to work with business executives and those looking to transition. I started to pay attention to my own cookie crumb trails though, and found that the type of clients I most enjoyed working with were those that were coping with a creative pregnancy.  So often these people were full-time parents and/or full-time employed who were suffering from delayed labor pains.  They had a book screaming to get out for years, but couldn’t find the time or means to work on it.  I love helping people find the space and tools that are needed. I dig discipline. An elemental guiding principle that I hold inviolate is that it is more excruciating to ignore the Muse than to simply let her have her way with you.

Creative pregnancy, eh? You have such a way with words. :)  Do you only work with local writers or have you done long distance coaching?
The standard practice of coaching is over the phone, which allows a coach to work with clients wherever they are located. As a diehard introvert who would generally prefer an extended boil lancing than a long phone call, I was surprised at how much I enjoy tele-coaching. It is extremely convenient and efficient for both the coach and client. People are always surprised at how intimate and catalytic it can be.

You had to work hard to get your first book published. How many years did it take? What inspired you to keep going?
From the time I stumbled into Lee Wardlaw’s Adult Ed children’s writing course, green as Shrek, to the time that I sold a book to Random House was ten years.  What inspired me to keep going?

1)    My writing buddy and Shrinking Violet sidekick, Robin LaFevers, whom I first met in Lee Wardlaw class! I absolutely could not have made it without her
2)    My talented and exceedingly encouraging writing group
3)    Being completely and blissfully clueless that it would take that long
4)    A hots of mini-boosters along the way-- published authors, editors or agents that gave me an Atta Girl. Alexis O’Neill gave me my first ever! Eve Bunting gave me another when she sought me out privately at a retreat---“You’ve really got something here!” she said. “Keep on this one.”

Robin told me she had several “practice” novels under her bed. Do you have some under yours as well?
Yes! Would you like to read it? Buy it? Carpet your birdcage? It’s called WILLA’S WILD, WILD, WILD ADVENTURES. It is scary bad. I actually have another that isn’t so god-awful that Wendy Lamb and I still talk about on occasion (on occasion being a euphemism 1.5 times).

Mary, Robin and Me at SCBWI-LA last summer
Girl gone wild, wild, wild, huh? :)  You and Robin both claim to be “shrinking violets” and yet you’re both so friendly and outgoing, especially to beginning writers. What prompted you to overcome being an introvert and reach out to other writers?
Actually, we aren’t “overcoming” being introverts. We wouldn’t want to be any other way! It’s who we are—and it doesn’t mean we can’t be friendly and outgoing. It does mean that we have become very in tune with the lifespan of our personal battery. I know that for every four hours of being chatty and social, I need just about that many hours of recharge time. Being an introvert in life is only a problem if one doesn’t know or respect their personal wattage.

Reaching out to other writers goes back to what I was saying in an earlier question about what kept me going as a pre-published writer.  When an author took the time to encourage me, it meant everything to me. One single comment about a manuscript might keep me going for months. I will spend my lifetime attempting to repay that debt. And what a pleasure it is to do that. Our region is rich with such lovely people early on their journey. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.

On your blog you muse a lot about life and spirituality. (Love your church of Peace, Love and Lattes!) Have you ever thought of writing a grown-up book on the subject? Or, what the heck, starting a church?
Books on spirituality and faith paths are my favorite reads right now. I can’t seem to get enough. I am currently reading Thomas Merton’s The Silent Life, which draws me deeply.  My obsession may be a clue that there is a “grown-up” book of my own gestating somewhere. I would welcome it.

My blog has evolved other time as I have. It started as a tongue-in-cheek attempt at taming the muse. It seems to have developed a party of it’s own. I’m just going with it.  And, yes, I would love to start the First Church of Peace Love and Lattes. You all are invited to email me to sign up!

I'm there! So, besides the latte, what’s your favorite comfort food when you’re writing?
Okay, here is my question… how does anyone eat while they are writing? I would need an extra hand.  You know how they have document holders to hold a piece of paper up for your while you’re working? What they really need is a burrito holder or PBJ holder so you could just lean over and take a bite and not have to take your hands off the keyboard. I’m envisioning a giant upended clothespin contraption. (Note to self: Contact 3M about this.)

My favorite pre-writing food to fuel the task is a double serving of Coach’s Oats with a big secret wad of peanut butter in the middle.  Trust me, you’ll be able to write for hours.

You were the first person to encourage me as a writer and I've gotten great advice from you. What was the best advice you ever received about writing?
Hands-down, Chris Crutcher--  “Don’t sanitize your writing.” This advice has helped me immeasurably in both literal and metaphorical ways.  Early on, I was hell bent on following all the rules people spouted at me. I allowed some (other newbies) to discourage me from writing about gay characters, and I tried not to write about anything that might be too “dark.”  Chris’s advice, which was part of a lecture, was a pivotal point for me. Because of it, I felt free to put Effie’s father in prison in my first book, even though it s a humorous novel for fourth graders. I need some grit in my work.  And some of my characters have potty mouths. I found it works best if I don’t muzzle them in any way. It may come out later in the editing process, but when they start talking, I am merely their faithful scribe.

Thank you so much, Mary! As always, it has been a pleasure :)

You can keep up with Mary at these spots:
Shrinking Violet Promotions
The Taming of the Muse
Mary Hershey, Children's Author

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pearls of Writing Wisdom

Last month I wrote a post over at Tabitha's blog about first drafts. The funny thing is, I've spent most of this month revising. I don't even know what draft I'm on because so many parts have changed as I go along. I've never been the type to finish one draft, edit and then do another draft. I'm jealous of people who can be that methodical. My drafts are far more messy. I change as I go, get feedback from my critique group and beta readers and constantly finesse the writing.

This draft is different. We're talking major overhaul here. Ever heard the story of the girl who queried too early? Yeah. That's me. I thought the book was done, queried it a bit and realized something wasn't working. So now I'm making huge changes and really thinking about the plot and what I want this book to say. Each chapter is going under the microscope to see if it moves the story forward or if it's just a nice distraction on the way to the good stuff.

Which means that beautiful scenes I crafted with so much care are finding their way into the dead file. Ugh. Writing new scenes is fun, but before they enter the book, I'm putting them through the test. If they don't illustrate the main character's motivation, goal or conflict, then they aren't doing their job. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. It's hard and it's painful and I find myself thinking about it ALL the time. As in, I'm sorry I burned your bacon, but I just thought of a sentence that I need to go write down before it's gone. Serve yourselves.

But it's working. I can see the story getting stronger and that makes it worthwhile. So maybe by the end of this draft number who knows what, that little grain of an idea will have emerged a pearl.

How's your summer writing going?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gone Camping

We are headed up here

for some of this

without any of these

Have a great week!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Author Spotlight on: Susan Kaye Quinn

 I love hearing about the successes of other bloggers. I mean, at some point, some of their fairy dust has to rub off on me, right? One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Inkspells, from Susan Kaye Quinn, where she focuses on MG books for boys. So imagine my surprise last month when she announced that it was release day for her first novel, a YA romance. Never saw that coming!

Of course I bought the book, gobbled it up and asked if I could interview her. If you haven't already heard the amazing story of how the publisher found her and invited her to submit, do yourself a favor and check it out. Trust me. It's like porn for aspiring authors. And when you're done, come back and read this interview to learn more about former California girl, debut author Susan Kaye Quinn.

You obviously know how to keep a secret! Seriously, how hard was that not to spill on your blog about this novel?
I share so much of my writing process on my blog, it was hard to keep from blurting it out. But I respected my publisher’s wishes to keep it under wraps until we were able to launch and give people something to hold.

On Ink Spells you focus on books for boys. How did your boys feel about LIFE, LIBERTY AND PURSUIT?
They want me to write more science fiction! My boys are 7, 9, and 11, and don’t have much interest in romance. My oldest read the back cover, shrugged, and walked away. They want to know when my middle grade novel is going to be published, and I have to keep explaining that publishing is a very long process. Seems like eons to them.

Oh, trust me. I can sympathize with them there!
Are you working on anything they'd be interested in?

I’ve written a middle grade science fiction novel called Byrne Risk. It’s a story about a girl struggling to save her clone caretaker from the Peace Police, who want to arrest her for stealing secret wormhole technology to help the clone resistance. My boys like the technology and the genetically engineered pets, as well as the broader themes of slavery and standing up for what’s right. Byrne Risk is in final edits, and I hope to start querying it soon.

I’ve promised them I’ll start writing another MG book this fall.

Wow, Byrne Risk sounds like a cool story! I hope someone picks it up once you get the queries out there. I'm pretty sure my son would enjoy reading that as well.

You’ve named Eoin Colfer, one of my personal favorites, as an influence on your SF/MG writing. Who are your YA romance literary heroes?

This is a tough one, as I haven’t actually read a lot of YA romance. My niece was enamored with Twilight, and I wrote LIFE, LIBERTY AND PURSUIT as a love story for her that was grounded in reality and didn’t require magical creatures to create the compelling tensions of the love story. Not that I have anything against fantasy – far from it. But life is epic all by itself.

You read and write a lot of different types of books, from MG sci-fi to YA romance. Do you think it will be a challenge to reach such varied groups of readers?
There are definitely different paths for different markets. Cynthia Leitich Smith is my hero for crossing genres and showing it to be acceptable (she writes picture books, MG, and YA). It’s easier to reach YA readers because they are online, and there are a growing number of adults that like to read YA. MG is still a more traditional market, which is why I’m pursuing a traditional agent/publisher route for that book. And why it will be much harder to break into.

There are some incredibly steamy scenes between David and Eliza. Is it more challenging to write a love scene or create a dystopian world?
I wanted to create some realistic scenes to drive the tension in the story, so David and Eliza kiss. A lot. But there is no sex in the story, and it was important to me to keep it clean, yet realistic, for teen readers. I would say it’s more technically challenging to write a dystopian world, just because you are creating something you’ve never experienced, whereas I’m familiar with love scenes. However, getting the emotional part of a love scene right is very challenging, so I think it depends on your strengths as a writer.

I know you grew up not far from where I live on California’s central coast and your father worked at the Naval base in Port Hueneme. He wouldn’t by chance be named David, would he?

No, but he did come from a Polish family raised near the Great Lakes Naval Station, which is where David attends boot camp! My dad actually consulted on a few of the navy terms in the book, and went through boot camp himself (although as a Marine, a long time ago).

LLP has a lot of great detail about David’s life in boot camp. How much did you have to research and how much did you learn from childhood through your father?
The consults with my dad didn’t come until the final stages of editing with my publisher, to make sure we had the right terminology between “mess deck” and “chow hall!” So almost all my research was done online – I actually followed the blog posts of a young navy recruit who went through confidence training in the gas chamber. A lot of our navy personnel are young and used to being online, so there’s a wealth of material.

Very true. I am constantly amazed by how much you can find on the internet. 

You also have a background in science. Is that going to show up in some of your future books?
Byrne Risk is rife with technology, from anti-matter engines to dark matter to genetically engineered clones. My next YA book, a paranormal novel called Open Minds, has a few tech elements because it’s placed 70 years in the future, but I would call it more science fantasy than science fiction. I have ideas for another MG book rumbling in my head, and I would like to fill that with more technology. My ulterior purpose is to get kids excited about science, but my boys also simply love the tech.

Note: The photo above is taken with my fellow engineering students at NASA Langley in front of the X1E, the experimental aircraft Chuck Yeager used to crack the sound barrier. I’m the wacky one on top. (I was about to fall off, hence the look of Holy ….! )

I love the story of how you were discovered by your publisher, Omnific. Have they expressed interest in any of your other stories or are you looking for an agent?

Omnific is terrific and they have asked about a sequel to LIFE, LIBERTY AND PURSUIT (I’m not planning one). I’m sure they would be interested in any future work that fell within their niche (mostly romance), because I know they are very supportive of growing their authors. However, I’ll be looking for an agent for my middle grade work, as that’s not the kind of novel that Omnific publishes.

Well, having read LIFE, LIBERTY AND PURSUIT, I don't blame Omnific for wanting a sequel. I would certainly read another book about these characters (hint, hint)

Small publishers are known for being able to get books to market sooner. How long did it take from when you turned your story in to your release day?
It was about a month from submitting my full MS to having it under contract. And about four months from contract to publication. That’s lightning fast in the publishing world, and you are right that small publishers are nimble and able to get books to market faster. Interestingly, I’ve seen a few larger, traditional publishers trying to shorten up their publishing times. I wonder if it is a trend.

Yes, I know Simon and Schuster has some very tight turnarounds with books like Jessica Burkhart's Canterwood Crest series. She has a new book out about every other month, so it is possible for big publishers to get books out faster.

Now I've heard of businesses having a Mission Statement, but you’re probably the first author that I’ve known to write one. What prompted you define your mission as a writer?

Well, I worked in industry (GE aircraft engines) and academia (National Center for Atmospheric Research). Writing mission statements or project plans is practically in my blood. Plus, I have a personal need to know why I am headed down a certain path. What’s my goal? How will I measure it? What is driving me, and how will I know if I’ve achieved what I’m striving for? The mission statement helped me think through and put all that into words. I’m surprised more writers don’t do this! We put things into words. It’s what we do.

Well, the mission statement obviously worked for you. I just might give that a try...

It's been a pleasure talking to you, Susan. And I'm looking forward to seeing you in person at SCBWI-LA in a couple weeks! Yay!

Thanks so much for the opportunity to interview!

Where you'll find Susan on the internet:
InkSpells blog
Life, Liberty and Pursuit website

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Matched Review

When Kathy at the Book Loft handed me this ARC I squealed. So very dignified. But I'd already seen bits about this book around the blogosphere and it was something I definitely wanted to read.

That can be dangerous. Authors can't always live up to our expectations, and I've been disappointed before.

Not this time.

Ally Condie is now right up there with my favorite authors Suzanne Collins and Maggie Stiefvater. She has created a chilling, dystopian world where the Society keeps everything perfect for long as they toe the line.

In case you haven't heard about the book at all, here's the blurb from Amazon:
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

The blurb makes it sound like this is just a love triangle, but it's so much more. Using language that is nearly as spare as the sterile environment of this future world, Condie pulled me in from page one. This is not an action-packed thriller, yet there is tension on every page, building so subtly with every chapter that you can't stop reading.

This is the first book in a planned trilogy (trilogies seem to be popular right now, don't they?), but the ending still manages to be satisfying and jaw dropping. My only warning: Wait until you have the time to read this book all at once because once you start, you will NOT want to put it down!

Monday, July 12, 2010

You Know You're Famous When...

...your book is a question/answer on Jeopardy!

And yes, this just happened to someone in my region who I interviewed here on the blog, PB author Barbara Jean Hicks.

The category was Literary Monsters for $1000

In a Barbara Jean Hicks story, monsters are tricked into
eating these veggies when told they're giant trees.

What is...?

You could probably guess the answer even if I didn't have a picture of the book over there. But still! How cool is that to have your name and book on national television?! And check out the other authors in the category: Mary Shelly, Jules Verne, R.L. Stine and Rick Riordan. Pretty sweet!

Congratulations, Barbara Jean!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Six More Reasons...

...why I love The Book Loft. Who doesn't love going into a bookstore and leaving with free ARCs of some of the hottest upcoming titles? The first ARC they ever gave me was The Hunger Games. Yeah. I about died. This pile made me babble with incoherent joy. Now you understand why I feel guilty if I buy books at B&N or Amazon. I love my local Indie!

This time they gave me:

Matched by Ally Condie
Scumble by Ingrid Law (sequel to Savvy)
After the Wreck by Joyce Carol Oates
Sapphique by Catherine Fischer (sequel to Incarceron)
Crossing Over by Anna Kendall
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

What are you reading this summer?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Midnight Madness

It's midnight and I'm still awake, rewriting the opening chapters of a book I thought was done. Now I see that I was wrong and I'm excited with where it's going.

I don't know why, but I seem to write better when everyone else is at home asleep. No distractions from email, the phone or hungry family members. I've had all day to mull over the possibilities. The words flow better for me at night. I'll might regret it tomorrow when I see the bags under my eyes and I can't keep up with the kids. But it's been a good writing night. When I finish this post, I think I'll write a little more.

As it happens, the cutoff for entering the drawing for a Barrie Summy book was at midnight so I went ahead and did the drawing, right on time. Each person was assigned a number and the generator at chose two winners for me:

Lydia Kang won I So Don't Do Mysteries

and woo-hoo, my critique partner and good friend

Lori Walker won I So Don't Do Makeup.

Congratulations ladies! I'll get these books out to you both right away.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Small Town Celebrations

It's the kind of party where if you've been invited once, you're invited for life. And they're the kind of people you want to spend time with, because they aren't like everyone else.

My friends Ferd and Sharron live in a windmill. (Actually, it's their guest house.) You can't get more quintessentially Solvang than that. Ferd used to be an L.A. County fireman. Sharron taught. Both are talented artists who have been married forever. They have 16 grandchildren and great-grandchildren ranging in age from 24 years to six weeks.  They've lived amazing lives and love to entertain us with their stories.

Besides the windmill, their property has a main house, an elf house (at least I convinced my daughter!), an art studio about the size of my home and a hillside patio that overlooks the staging area for the Solvang Rotary's fireworks show. Every year we climb on the roof of a storage shed that sits down the hill below Ferd and Sharron's patio to watch fire explode in the sky.

And on the hillside.

Last year I think the kids had more fun watching firemen down the hill stamping out little fires from embers that hit the ground or fireworks that didn't quite make it to the sky. This year the wind blew the opposite way so the show stayed in the air. We watched the stars and the explosions above, listened to the ramblings of the pleasantly buzzed people around us, talked about our funny hometown parade, felt the chill of the fog creeping over the hills.

Memories are made of days like this, friends like this.

I hope your 4th of July was just as spectacular.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Author Spotlight on: Barrie Summy

After five days in the desert heat, we're back home to cooler temps and 24-7 wireless. Hooray! Even better, I have a fabulous interview for you with an author I met last summer at SCBWI-LA, the wonderful Barrie Summy.

And I have two of her books to give away!!

Not only is Barrie one of the nicest people you'll meet, she's also a mom to four children, two veiled chameleons and 83 veiled chameleon eggs. And wouldn't you know -- the main character in her I So Don't Do Mysteries books has curly hair and the name Sherry! What's not to love?

Please welcome San Diego author, mom, licorice lover Barrie Summy!!

Sherrie, thank you so much for interviewing me. Hard to believe almost a year has gone by since we met in Beverly Hills at SCBWI last summer!!

I know. Time flies, doesn't it? But I'm so glad I finally get to interview you after pimping your novel last summer :-) 

I love the story of how you got your agent, Rachel Vater. I mean, it sounds like a total fairy tale! (This post has all the details.) Did you ever query any other agents?

I queried eight other agents. Mostly because I just didn’t think in a million years that I’d end up with Rachel based on pitching Donald Maass while he signed his book for me. This is one crazy industry!

No kidding! But it's great how things work out sometimes. I know you were a huge Nancy Drew fan (so was I!). Do you think you’ll write as many books as Carolyn Keene did?
Just  starting to figure out my fifth book. So, thirty-eight looks pretty overwhelming. ;)

Didn’t I So Don’t do Mysteries morph out of a Nancy Drew mystery you had written?

It did. I So Don’t Mysteries was originally titled Nancy Drew and the Mystery at the Wild Animal Park. A lot, besides just the characters changed from the original manuscript. Even the villain isn’t the same.

Oh, how funny! 
I guess that's what happens with the rewrites... 

You are one of those majorly organized people when it comes to writing: outlines, flow charts, note cards in the recipe box. Does this come from being the mother of four children?

Probably. I have to admit, though, that I’ve become less organized with each child! There was a time when I never had an overdue library book. That is so not the case these days!

Hmmm, that reminds me...I've got a few myself...

Does all that organization help you avoid writer’s block?

I think what really helps is how busy the kids keep me. I mean, I write a ton in my car. While waiting for kids to finish with swim team. Or while my youngest has her piano lesson. Or . . . you get the idea.  So, when I sit down to write, it’s like chop-chop, let’s get going. If I do have trouble writing, I give it the old college try. If it’s still now working, I turn off my computer and head to the store for some licorice.

How true do you stay to your outline?

My outlines always end up providing too much material. Which means I can never fit in all the scenes planned. Also, what works in an outline doesn’t necessarily work in the book. In other words, I stay reasonably true, but there are always changes. For me, the outline takes the panic out of writing.

So tell me about the Denny’s chicks…how many of you are there, how did you find each other and who on earth came up with the name?

There were four of us. Now, we’re down to three, but considering bumping it back up to four. We found each other at a plotting boot camp (meaning everyone plotted an entire book over the weekend) put on by our local RWA chapter. We were at the same table and just clicked. And the name Denny’s Chicks? I honestly don’t remember who came up with it.

Well it's a great name. Even if you don't meet at Denny's anymore :-)

You’ve said that it took about seven years of writing I So Don’t do Mysteries before it was published. Then you wrote the sequel in about seven months. I’m sure your organizational skills came to the rescue! Was that stressful having to meet a deadline for the publisher or was the second book easier to write?

The second was waaay easier to write. I knew the characters pretty well by then. The editor had read over my outline. Yes, I SO DON’T DO SPOOKY was a lot easier to write.

I think I So Don’t Do Makeup is your best so far. Does it get difficult to keep the character and situations fresh when you’re writing a series?

I’m guessing it probably does. But it hasn’t yet. In May, I turned in I SO DON’T DO FAMOUS, the fourth book. Which I thoroughly enjoyed writing. Of course, I had to visit Hollywood a couple of times in the name of research. Very fun!

Sounds like my kind of research!

Now I don’t want to start any cover controversies but I have to find out. The original cover had an illustration of a girl with curly hair on the cover, but the newer covers have a girl with straight hair. What’s the story there?

I think it was more about changing from a cartoon cover to a photo of a real girl. In the books, Sherry (don’t you love her name??!!) still has curly hair. They really did find an adorable model.

Well, I am willing to admit she's adorable, even if her hair isn't curly...

Are you planning to go to SCBWI-LA this year?

Sadly, no. SCBWI-LA is the same time as water polo Junior Olympics and my 3rd son’s team qualified for JOs. This year, JOs is in Pasadena. So, the SCBWI attendees will probably be able to hear me screaming! How about you? Are you going?

Yes, I'll be there, but I'm bummed that you won't. We had fun last year! But Pasadena's close by. You can sneak into the lobby after 3rd Son's game is over one night... I won't tell!

Best of luck to you, Barrie. It was fun to catch up!

A million thanks for interviewing me, Sherrie!! I’m looking forward to when our paths cross again in real life!

I have two of Barrie's books to give away: 

an original hard cover of I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES (with the adorable  curly haired cartoon!) 

Let me know in the comments which book you'd like. You have until midnight on Tuesday to enter your name. I'll randomly choose one winner for each book on Wednesday.
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