Thursday, January 12, 2012




I want to thank you again Shel, for doing this interview with Great Minds. The first thing I'd like to talk about are the books you've written so far. Can you give us a brief rundown of your works?

Thank you for having me, Kitty! The only book available so far is DOLPHIN GIRL, which is a story about a quirky, artistic sixteen-year-old named Jane. She feels walled in by her mother's rules and the social rules of her high school and wants to break those walls down.

In your bio I read that you have swam with the dolpins. I'm sure all our readers would love to know what that was like. Can you tell us about that experience?

This was -- without a doubt -- one of the most incredible experiences in my life and it's really difficult to put into words. In fact, the dolphin swim scene in the book was the hardest one to write! I suppose, the best way I can explain it would be to relate it to your interactions with pets (not that dolphins are in any way pets). But, anyone who has a dog or cat knows how their moods can be read. For me, dolphins put out a free spirited, happy, loving vibe. Swimming and playing with them is like a perfect moment of rolling around on the floor with your dog or batting a toy around with your cat. Animal lovers and pet owners can probably relate to how great those moments can be.

It seems that you have a very supportive family as far as your writing goes. Since you have children, do you often get their take on your writing before publishing?

I'm so lucky -- they are extremely supportive! While I don't ask them to read my books as I'm writing them, I do ask for their input on scenes or situations. It's been a long time since I've been in high school and I don't want my characters to be inauthentic. Also, my oldest son designed the cover for DOLPHIN GIRL, so that was a huge effort to support the book, and I'm thrilled with the job he did!

Tell us more about your Kid-lit community and what it is that you do there?

Whatcha' Reading Now? just turned two and it's been a blast. On our site we'll pick a theme -- our current theme is One World -- and then we'll select books that fit the theme. In each issue, we chat a book, have an author interview, and book reviews for different age readers. One of the things that I'm most proud of is how we've had contributors from a very broad pool: teen members of our community write articles and educators write the Teacher Feature. My favorite feature is Off the Shelf. You never know who will be contributing. It could be a published author or editor or agent or libriarian or bookseller. The only requirement is that the contributor must love children's books so much that they've made a career out of it. And we have fun pulling togetehr our Whatcha' gotta' Read list, which includes a bunch of reads that we couldn't pull into the issue. So many books, so little time!:)In addition to the site we have a blog, twitter handle, and an active Facebook fan page, contests and of course we're always talking about ways to enhance the community!

What's next on your list? What do you have coming out in the near future and when can we expect it?

. Oh, I am so tight lipped about this kind of thing, but, I'll say this much: I will have additional books in 2012

(6) What's it like living in Florida where it seems to always be sunny? Give us an idea of a typical day in the life of Shel.

It's wonderful to live in Florida this time of year. All of us natives can be heard saying during the Winter and Spring, "This is why we live here!" The Summer and Fall, however, are a different matter altogether--hot and sticky. Uck! That said, other than the weather, life in Florida is pretty much like anywhere else. We have the same good and bad issues, and really my life is probably a lot like most moms of three boys -- sports, a lot of laundry, school, busy, busy, busy. The only difference is that I spend a lot of time writing or in imaginary worlds.

And, I speak from experience on this. I've lived in the Finger Lakes area of NY, and Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Missouri , and Illinois. People are just people. Everywhere.:)

How old were you when you first started writing, was it something you always did?

Almost always. It was either first or second grade when Mrs. Parker began placing my "books" on the reading table with all the other real books and our primer, which featured Dick and Jane. If someone hasn't read these stories, let me tell you: they were boring. Really, really boring. Spot ran. Jane's shoes got muddy. That was the extent of the tension. So my books definitely had more of a crisis--like losing homework or something. So, I guess Mrs. Parker was my first fan and I was lucky to have her as a teacher for several years because she encouraged me for a long enought time that I began to think of myslef as a writer.

What is the one genre you have not endeavored into yet that you would like to write in someday?

I really, really want to write a dystopian novel and not just because they are popular right now! When I was a teenager, I read a lot of sci-fi and horror. One novel that really captured my imagination was Ira Levin's THIS PERFECT DAY. In fact, that novel was out of print for a while and has recently been re-released as an e-book, which is good news for the folks who have never read it! Anyway...ever since that time, I've been drawn to those kinds of stories so I've been having a hey dey reading all the great stuff that's been coming out. The dystopian novel I want to write has been plotted for almost three years and it has a male protagonist, which is probably what has been holding me back from writing it. Maybe I'll do it and release it under another name. I don't know for sure, but I definitely want to write it.

What do you like to read when you have the time, what's your favorite genre?

I read mostly YA. And the thing is even when I read adult novels, they often have young or immature characters. For a long time, I thought this meant there was something wrong with me, like I hadn't matured yet (which i haven't), but finally I realized it's much more than the maturity issue. It's that the stakes are higher and the emotions are more intense at that time in our lives. Based on all the cross-over reading that's going on it's good to know I'm not the only one.

Do you have any advice you'd like to share with other aspiring authors?

Three things have been (and continue to be) invaluable to me. First, learn everything you can about the craft of writing whether it's through books, or classes, or conferences or critique groups. During and after that: read. write. repeat. Most of my biggest revelations about the craft of writing have come when I've been reading someone else's work. Second, give yourself permission to make this fun. Play with your writing, characters, plots, dialogues, ideas. And finally, don't rest on any laurels. There is always something else to learn, do, accomplish. Make sure, regardless of the publishing path you choose that you continue to grow as a writer.

Thank you so much for your time Shel, and I hope we can do this again in the near future!

Thanks for having me, Kitty! And I hope I can have you on my blog someday soon!

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