Thursday, July 10, 2008

One aspiring writer (and a quick giveaway)

For today’s miniview, we talk to Pamela Ross (a.k.a. WriterRoss if you’re a fan of Verla Kay’s boards). And that header up there--One aspiring author--should read "An inspiring author" because Pam can dish out some serious inspiration for those who are hard at work at their craft. Pam loves picture books and novels, and it’s her dream to have one of these published. But as we know, dreams sometimes work in mysterious ways, so Pam’s first success has been with non-fiction books (Capstone Press), magazines, and writing greeting card copy.

Pam, tell us how you got started writing for children?
There has never been a stage or age when I was anything but a writer. I was writing stories and submitting them to magazines when my friends were playing Hide and Seek, Hopscotch, and Spin the Bottle. (Not necessarily in that order.) I wish I still had the books I wrote as a child. My mom and dad thought I was the most talented kid on the block-- but they also had a thing for keeping the house neat and my stories mysteriously disappeared into trash bags. (If you grew up in apartments like I did in Brooklyn, you would understand: there was barely enough room for a family of five to change their minds there, let alone giving me space to create and keep my masterpieces. At least you can say I learned about rejections, er, recycling, at a tender age.) I grew up, went to law school, and wrote when no one was watching. I thought: I love this but I don't know what to do with this passion. Other people are authors. I am not an "other" person. Other people write books. I will read them.

I can remember the precise moment when The Calling whispered in my ears. Or to my eyes, truth be told. I bought my first computer. A friend had to tell me how to make it Do Something after I pushed the ON button. I taught myself everything I know (and I am proud of this achievement because before learning how to work a computer, the most challenging, scientific thing I had done was change a light bulb). I connected with a computer software fanatic at a computer store. I have no idea how this man knew about a program called GEnie, but he told me there were people there who talked to one another ON THE COMPUTER. There were other writers there. Like Me. He talked me through the steps and voila! I found a children's writer's forum. I saw the name Jane Yolen. Jane YOLEN? Be still my heart. She was real? She was ONLINE? Yes. She. Was. Magic! She wrote messages to people and answered questions. So, of course, I asked a question! A few hours later, there was a response. For me. From Jane Yolen. I printed out the message out and saved it for posterity. I could not believe writers could write to one another. And care. And help. And share information. I was hooked. I went on to study all the children’s writers I loved best. I joined SCBWI, and became a conference junkie. I read all of the "How To" books, took classes, and wrote and wrote. Children's books connected with the writer in me and the soul in me. I've never looked back.

Are you querying editors? Agents? What’s your process?
As of this writing, I have nothing circulating. I am not happy about this. Frustration takes a horrific toll on a writer and you are looking at one, frustrated writer. Thank goodness for redemption and time and ambition and blank slates. I know what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m going to make it happen. I have been read and personally rejected by some of the best editors in the business. I have a list of editors I love and editors I would love to work with one day. I have a lovely list of editors who welcome my writing with open arms and have asked for more, more, more. The only person I can blame is myself for not being more Out There and on the editors' desks as we speak. My friends will yell if I confess this in public: I have never multiply submitted in my life. I know. I am a relic. Put me in the Museum of Natural History. I am the perfect candidate for an agent because as much as I like to talk about writing, selling my own and selling myself is something I am rather shy about doing. I am studying and learning as much as I can about the literary agents in the business that I feel would most connect with my writing. Is there an e-Harmony dating service to match authors and the perfect agent? Sign me up.

In one sentence, tell us where you’ll be in ten years.
I pray one day (hopefully in less than ten years) many passionate readers, will look for my books in their libraries and bookstores and feel as if they are home in the pages of my writing.

Pam, we wish you only the best! It will happen.

BIG NEWS, MINI GIVEAWAY
Today’s post was an in-depth (and sort of long) look at an aspiring writer. Tomorrow, we have the spotlight on a HUGE author whose writing and drawings are for middle readers, but his books are read and enjoyed by kindergarteners, teens, and adults, too. Put your best guess in the comment area, and the first person to get it right, gets a signed galley of his latest.

5 comments:

thereadingzone said...

On behalf of my kiddies, I have to put in a guess for their favorite author/illustrator. Could it be Jeff Kinney?

I love this series, by the way! Great work!

Fran Cannon Slayton said...

Nice piece! Good to know other lawyers are writing for kids, too!! -- a former prosecutor!!

writerross said...

I was on the defense side, working for the Legal Aid Society. I loved everything about it---except going to court. ;>

Actually, once I was in the room and before the judge, I put on my acting cap and spoke from the heart. Leg Aid clients =wanted= me, saying "Lady, lady, be my lawyer."

But oh the night before I knew I was scheduled for a court appearance was an entirely different matter. How many Tums can one person swallow in one scoop without overdosing?

I don't know. I never overdosed. ;>

Thanks for reading. Where are all the giveaway guesses?

CLASS OF 2K8 people: Can I try? What about BRIAN SELZNICK?

-Pamela (inspired by others) Ross

laurasalas said...

Lovely interview with Pam, who is so honest and passionate. And who has never multiply submitted anything? After I finish crying, I'll go browbeat her about that.

It's a tough industry, and you have to market your work like a maniac (unfortunately). Pam, don't be one of the people who write beautiful works but don't get them in front of people. That would be a shame.

writerross said...

Laura: Your kind words moved me. After =I= finish crying, I will take your advice to heart. I'm like the actor hiding behind the curtains. Stage Fright, perhaps. Afraid to fail. Get out there, kid. Show the world you know your lines. {}

-Pamela