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 OwenJessicaChrysanthemum, 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...


 Thanks so much, Sandi, for interviewing me!


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

46 comments:

  1. Lovely to see Beth's talent and commitment highlighted. Thank you, Sandi! Beth has such focus and clarity for her published path, it is wonderful to follow. She is also a great supporter of other writers and illustrators!

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    1. You are welcome Joanna! Beth is well on her way to publication, and as writers and illustrators, we can't thank her enough for being our lead cheerleader!

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    2. Thanks so much, Joanna! I so appreciate the support of others around me.

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  2. Thanks so much for interviewing me, Sandi! I so appreciate it.

    One note -- last night I changed my twitter handle, so that people can find me more easily, so I'm now @BethStilborn.

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    1. It was truly my pleasure Beth. Thank you for the update on your twitter handle.

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    2. Thanks, Sandi. (Would it be possible for you to update the post so that the correct twitter handle is visible there? You can just copy paste @BethStilborn ) Thanks!

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  3. Thank you Sandi, for putting Beth in the spotlight after all of those she has shown the
    light on. She is such a warm and lovely person to know -- and now I can add "wise." Great interview! Wart? I am seriously laughing outloud -- great choice though. But,I expected something entirely different. Great interview!

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    1. Thank you Patricia. I am glad that you enjoyed the interview.

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    2. Thank you so much, Pat! Everyone's warm words are just making my day.

      And I'm curious -- who would you have expected me to say for the book character?

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  4. How I wish Beth the most in her creative endeavors. Thanks for having her Sandi. :)

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  5. It was great getting to know Beth better. Wonderful interview ladies.

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  6. Nice to learn more about you. I'm also working on mg novel. Beth, I hope to meet you this summer at SCBWI LA conference.

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed the interview. Hope that the two of you are able to connect this summer.

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    2. Thanks, Rena. If you're at SCBWI LA, we'll make sure we meet!

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  7. Great interview, Beth & Sandi. I've "seen" Beth a lot on the PIBoIdMo and 12X12 facebook pages but it was nice getting to know her better. You have an impressive To Do list, Beth! Good luck with all your writing endeavors.

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    1. I agree, it was nice getting to know Beth through this interview. She has a lot to do, and I have confidence that she will accomplish it all!

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    2. Thanks, Dana. It's great to hear from people who've enjoyed the interview. I so appreciate Sandi giving me this opportunity.

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  8. I'm looking forward to seeing you in LA Beth! Wonderful interview, Sandi.

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    1. Thanks for checking out the interview Kirsten.

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    2. Oh goodie! You're going to be in LA? It'll be great to meet you, Kirsten.

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  10. Beth, Awesome interview! Thanks for sharing info about the Just Write for Kids group. I'm taking Mark Mitchell's How To Be A Children's Book Illustrator Course right now. I think I know what my next course will be. Also the children's book hub info... I'm hopping over there to FB right now to join. And thanks, Sandi for the spotlight on Beth (she is becoming one of my favorites.) I'm also now following you!
    Laura Miller

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    1. I am glad that you enjoyed the interview, and thanks for joining The Write Stuff! I always like to hear from others about the classes that they recommend taking.

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    2. Thank you so much, Laura! Your comment is so sweet. I appreciate it very much.

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  11. Good luck with all of your plans for 2012, Beth!

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    1. Thanks so much, Heather! All the best to you, as well.

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  12. Great interview! I have a question, what does "pre-published author" mean? I read that all the time and I don't know what that means.
    I really enjoyed learning more about Ms. Stilborn! I haven't read "Ish" yet but I think I will NOW! Thanks :)
    Erik

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    1. Great question Erik! A pre-published author is someone who is writing but has yet to actually be published. They are just waiting for their work to land on the desk of someone who recognizes their talents and send their work to the presses.

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    2. Thanks so much, Erik! I'm glad Sandi explained pre-published to you. It's a very good question. A lot of us use it because we think it sounds more positive than saying "I write, but I'm not published yet."

      I know you and your sister will LOVE "Ish"! "The Dot" is great, too!

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  13. Enjoyed the interview! Beth, I think you are doing a great job building your brand. I look forward to seeing your posts on The Hub FB page. Good luck with finding an agent this year!

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    1. Hopefully 2012 will be the year for Beth!

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    2. Thanks so much, Eric. I have a great time finding things to post on the Hub FB page. That project is such a joy for me.

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  14. Great interview, Beth and Sandi! I enjoyed learning more about you, Beth!

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  15. Glad that you enjoyed the interview Tina.

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  16. Wonderful interview! Thank you Beth for all of the hard work you put in to help other writers. Soon you will have to drop that title as you become a published author. :-)

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    1. Thank you so much, Debbie! The things I do are an absolute joy to me.

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  17. Nice advice, Beth! I really like your plan and can't wait to meet you at the SCBWI conference in LA this summer!

    I just met Kevin Henkes and I found Ish at a goodwill store...it's on my shelf of "books that aid in writing and inspiration!"

    Keep up the good work!!

    KE

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    1. Thanks, Kathy Ellen! Looking forward to meeting you at SCBWI LA! I'll be the one carrying a big Children's Book Hub totebag!

      Meeting Kevin Henkes would be total tongue-tying delight. Glad you found a copy of Ish -- isn't it great?

      Thanks again!

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  18. Beth and Sandi, you did a great job! I love learning more about you, Beth :) I'll have to check out that course too :)

    Thanks for sharing with us,
    Love,
    Denise

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    1. Thanks, Denise! Doing this interview was a joy. So glad you're going to check out Just Write for Kids!

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