Fresh green growth, flowering trees, and even the rain is putting spring in my yard and a spring in my step. Time to break free of the winter blahs and get reenergized for writing! Thanks to the very talented Tracey Baptiste for inviting me to be part of this blog hop. Tracey is an editor and author AND freelance “fairy Godauthor” (I love that) which means she can help you with your writing! She writes from a great perspective — having grown up in Trinidad before moving with her family to New York city as a teen. Here’s a fantastic post she just did to keep the #WeNeedDiverseBooks fire going! Please enjoy reading about Tracey (and please enjoy reading her books, too!).
Tracey Baptiste is an author and editor of children’s books. Born on the island of Trinidad, Tracey became interested in fairy tales and told her mother at the age of 3 that she would grow up to be a writer someday. She wrote her first novel at the age of 13, moved to New York with her family at age 15, and graduated with her Master’s Degree in Education at age 22. After teaching 2nd grade for several years, Tracey left to work for McGraw-Hill, developing Reading and Language Arts programs. Tracey wrote her first novel, Angel’s Grace, on the commute to work. After leaving McGraw-Hill to freelance, she wrote 7 middle grade non-fiction books including a biography of her fantasy hero, Madeleine L’Engle.
Tracey has recently returned to full-time work (though she happily works from home) as an editor for Rosen Publishing, where she edits non-fiction books for kids. Her second novel, a creepy middle grade called The Jumbies will be out from Algonquin in 2015.
Tracey is represented by Marie Lamba of Jennifer De Chiara Literary and is currently at work on a chapter book for younger kids, and a middle grade novel. She can be found at www.traceybaptiste.com where she blogs a weekly-ish roundup of publishing news. She also helps other writers with their fiction and non-fiction manuscripts via Fairy Godauthor (www.fairygodauthor.com). You can find Tracey in person at the NJSCBWI conference in June. She will be giving two presentations: non-fiction writing, and the author/agent relationship. She will also be critiquing non-fiction proposals.
At the end of this post are several more authors I’ll introduce you to, but first let me answer the Blog Hop questions:
1. What am I working on?
It depends what day it is. Seriously, I have so many different projects that I work on whichever one I’m most passionate about that day. Mostly, I’m a novelist, but I’m working on several picture books and also a novel for adults. I do try to focus most of my attention on one or two projects so right now it’s a picture book biography and a new novel that, amazingly, might even have a fantasy element which I don’t usually write. I really need to work on my teen road trip novel, though. And, OK, there’s also this middle grade historical novel that’s on the top of my list … see what I mean?
2. How does my work differ from others of this genre?
I think every author has his or her own style. Mine is to deal with tough issues but include the all important element of humor. I also think authors have different strengths. I believe mine is in the characters. They feel real to me (and, actually, they appear in my head that way so I hardly feel like I can take credit for creating them myself). I love it when people say the characters in my books stick with him and they don’t want the story to end because they’ll feel like they’ve lost a friend. I think that’s a lovely compliment.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I love reading contemporary or historical novels so that’s what I tend to write. I feel for kids, particularly in their transition to adulthood, which is why I tend to write middle grade and young adult novels. My books deal with difficult topics because I’m trying to make sense of them myself and hoping that these stories will help kids think through these topics and make some sense of them, too. My themes are tolerance, understanding, social justice, and peace. Those themes are important to me in life so they come out naturally in my writing. Finally, I always end on a note of hope. That is critical. I couldn’t write without hope.
4. How does my writing process work?
It’s messy. It’s unconventional. It’s haphazard. And that’s the way I like it. I have never enjoyed routine — variety is the spice of life, right? I love working on whatever project interests me so whatever mood I wake up in determines my work for the day. Often I’ll sit and write very early in the morning when I’m fresh and the house is quiet and before the day gets away from me. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to get a power nap and I can repeat the creative surge in the afternoon. I write (in my head or on my voice app) when I’m driving or taking walks. And really, writers are always working on stories because we’re observing and tucking little incidents away for future modification and use. I write whatever comes into my head and the only downside is having to take that jumble and shape it into an organized story. That is the hardest part for me. But even in that process I learn something and make revisions and realize why it is I’m writing this story. Research, to me, is part of the writing process because I couldn’t write without really knowing the ins and outs so I do spend a fair amount of time reading, exploring, traveling, etc. in order to get the information I need to write an authentic story. It’s probably not the most efficient process but we all have to follow our own style.
And now for three talented writers whom I respect and whose writing I very much enjoy. Please check them out!
Jennifer Elvgren can make even tough topics understandable to the very young, and memorable for all of us.
A former print journalist, Jennifer’s children’s fiction has appeared in Highlights for Children, Ladybug, and Spider magazines. She is the author of Josias, Hold the Book, a Bank Street College Best Books selection and a recipient of the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. Her new picture book The Whispering Town was recently reviewed in The New York Times and received a Starred Review from Booklist. She lives in Albemarle County, Virginia, with her husband, three children, Caspian the Border collie, Copperfield the Foxhound and Goodnight Moon the Quarter Horse. Please visit her at www.JenniferElvgren.com
Dionna Mann is such a beautifully lyrical writer that reading her words is like drinking in deliciousness.
Dionna is a spinner of children’s yarns, a weaver of nonfiction articles, a forever-learner enrolled in the Institute of Imaginative Thinking and a keeper of an MFA–a Mighty Fine Attitude, that is. Her work has appeared in WEE ONES, KidMag Writer, the SCBWI Bulletin, the ICL’s newsletter, and in regional newspapers. She has sold a non-fiction feature to Highlights for Children and has had a poem accepted by Ladybug. For eight years now, Dionna has been writing articles on editorial assignment for Charlottesville Family, a Parent’s Choice winning magazine. In 2012, her debut middle-grade, FREEDOM PEN, was published by Pugalicious Press. She may be found at www.dionnalmann.com
Shelley Sackier has a wit you can’t even imagine (actually, you can once you read her bio!) — it draws you in and keeps you laughing.
Shelley Sackier is a bone-tired woman who faces a daily insurmountable amount of laundering and cleaning of crockery. These tasks are generated mostly by her faithful hound who is an unusual mixed breed of part highland cow and part wooly mammoth. She owns two children who also tax her with the insatiable need for full bellies and clean underwear. And she accomplishes these undertakings with nothing more than the assistance of her teeth.
With her hands, she is free to idle away her hours writing middle grade and young adult contemporary and historical fiction. June 2015 is the date her publishers have set as the unleashing of her book Dear Opl, a humorous look at grief, obesity, and diabetes; a tagline her editors refuse to acknowledge as marketable.
To learn more about Shelley, visit Peakperspective.com where she blogs weekly about living on a small farm atop a mountain in the Blue Ridge and how it’s easiest to handle most of it with home grown food, a breathless adoration for tractors, and a large dose of single malt scotch.