Thanks so much, Sandi, for interviewing me!
Monday, March 12, 2012
Words From the Wise #4 -- Beth Stillborn
For this week's guest, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Beth Stillborn. Beth is a pre-published author who has truly devoted herself to being a wonderful children's author. I hope that you learn from her and enjoy her thoughts.
1. Can you please give us a history on how you became a writer for children?
I dabbled in writing for years. In the late 1980s when I was going through a rough patch in my life, my mother said, “Why don’t you write?” That moment was the catalyst for all that followed.
For years, writing was something I did in my spare time. I no longer work outside the home, so I now have much more time to devote to writing.
When I started submitting – and receiving rejection letters – I realized I needed some instruction. I started Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write for Kids online course in picture book writing in September 2010. Lessons arrive by email each week and there’s a website where one can give feedback. Emma’s responses were enthusiastic, supportive and encouraging to all my progress reports and questions.
My confidence in myself and in my writing grew enormously because of my participation in JWFK, as did my understanding of crafting a story, creating characters, building a plot.
I readily recommend Just Write for Kids, http://www.justwriteforkids.com to anyone who wants grounding in the basics of writing picture books – noting that the lessons can then be applied to any genre.
2. You are very involved with Children's Book Hub. Can you please explain a little bit about what Children's Book Hub is, and your involvement?
The Children’s Book Hub began in January 2011, an offshoot of Emma’s Just Write for Kids course. Membership is by paid subscription. I was one of the first subscribers. There are resources, teleseminar interviews, as well as question and answer sessions with Emma. For more information, go to http://www.childrensbookhub.com
In December 2011 I suggested to Emma that the Hub start a Facebook Group that would be open to writers, illustrators and editors whether or not they were paid members of the Children’s Book Hub.
As Emma and I developed the idea, we envisioned the Facebook Group being a place where children’s writers and illustrators could interact, discuss topics pertaining to writing, share links and resources. We also saw it as a way to give people a taste of the Hub itself. Emma asked me to co-administer the Group with her, and I was honored to do so.
If any children’s writer, illustrator, or editor is interested in joining us in the Children’s Book Hub Facebook Group, check out our main page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/childrensbookhub/ Emma and I will be glad to make you welcome.
(Note: Membership in the Hub Facebook Group is free, but it is a closed group, so you have to request membership. If your connection to the kidlit world isn’t clear, we’ll send you a message to clarify that before we approve your request.)
3. What goals do you have for yourself as a writer, and do you have a strategy as to how you hope to achieve those goals?
I hope to have an agent by the end of 2012. I’m currently working on a picture book series and have begun a related chapter book series. I’ll begin my agent-search when three manuscripts in the picture book series and two in the chapter book series are submission-ready.I’m working on a middle grade novel. I hope to attend a conference this summer focusing on writing for middle grade kids. I plan to attend SCBWI LA in August, too. Writing is now my job. I’m learning to be systematic in my writing. Writing a draft a month for 12 x 12, and the critique group I have joined, are providing accountability.I’m working to build my “brand”. Since many of my writing projects involve the arts, my blog’s focus is mainly the arts. (By Word of Beth, http://www.bethstilborn.com.) I’m considering other ways to build on that, as well.
4. Which picture book authors are you most fond of, what about their writing engages you?
Kevin Henkes, particularly Owen, Jessica, Chrysanthemum, and Wemberly Worried. I love the way he expresses the feelings, fears and misunderstandings that are part of childhood.
Peter H. Reynolds, particularly Ish, which I wish had been around when I was a child feeling that I was “no good” at art.
I love the spunky sparkle of Gerry in Julie Andrews Edwards’ and Emma Walton Hamilton’s Very Fairy Princess series, and the lyricism of their Simeon’s Gift.
5. If you could be a character in any book, which book would it be, and what character would you take on?
It’s hard to choose “this one and not that one” for anything! The book – T.H. White’s The Once and Future King; the character – Wart, the not-yet-king Arthur. The potential in Wart, the wise teacher Merlyn, plus Camelot – wonderful! At least, that’s what I’d choose today...
Beth Stilborn is a pre-published writer of picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, and adult fiction, and a published writer of hymn texts. She lives in a windswept city on the Canadian prairies. You can connect with Beth on her blog, By Word of Beth, http://www.bethstilborn.com, her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/bethstilbornwrites, and her Twitter, @BethStillborn