Anita M Shaw [temp96866]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I started telling stories to my sisters at bedtime when I was four years old. The stories were about four sisters and their horses. In the fifth grade, Mrs. Miller, our teacher read to us from the 1001 Arabian Night. That sparked my imagination anew, and I began writing my own fantasy tales and other stories. I wrote my classmates into the stories, and Mrs. Miller let me read everything I wrote to the class.
I just kept going from there. So I have to say, my mother and my classmates and teacher were the first to read my work.
The same year, my mother took my siblings and me to the Litchfield Library, which was a small place at the time. My first books were Black Beauty, all of the Black Stallion books, the Bobbsey Twins, Tarzan, and others I can't remember. I was a reading machine, finishing up to nine books a week. I just couldn't get enough!
All of these served to fuel my imagination for my own stories.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
Not sure I have a favorite genre. I love to read period. I do enjoy reading books in the middle grade and young adult genre. Even books for younger readers.
I also enjoy a good clean romance, some fantasy, sci-fi and action/thrillers.
I write for middle graders and young adult. I have a couple ideas in mind for picture books for younger readers.
my author website is http://www.anitamshaw.com
You can also read my work at AuthorsDen.com and Writing.com.
You can learn a lot more about me at http://www.strollingmemorylane.com and http://www.thesouthpawconnection.com
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
My creative process . . . hmmm . . . Well, pretty much it's just getting an idea, which usually prompts a character or two or more to pop into my head.
Sometimes the whole first chapter forms in my mind, and I write it. If it's good, great! If not, I sometimes rewrite on the spot. More often, I just keep going to see where it leads.
Sometimes I carry an idea in my head for years before I finally write the story. By that time, I've got all my characters named and their personalities are formed.
I seldom have to do real research for what I write in these genres. I use made up places in states where I've lived and so am familiar with.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Good books in the genres I write in.
Badly written books that make me want to write a better story. :)
Just about any book I read of any genre can inspire me to write.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
A decent storyline with a great beginning, plausible conflict and exciting action in the middle, and a satisfying ending.
Believable characters that you can identify with and care deeply about. Realistic dialogue.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
It depends on the story.
I tend to use first person POV for my kids' novels and young adult. It just feels right to me.
I do like to write in third person, though, to be able to show things you wouldn't see from a first person POV. But generally, I write in first person.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Mark Twain, Walter Raleigh, Dr. Suess, Lucy Fitch Perkins, and others I'll add later.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Creating a character comes rather easily to me. Usually, a name comes first, and that name will suggest to me certain personality traits, physical features, likes, and dislikes, manner of speech, etc.
Characters need to ring true. They have to feel real to me. And you need to be consistent in your portrayal of them.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I can do a decent job telling stories I'm familiar with. I put a lot of feeling in telling them or reading aloud to my young readers.
And it's fun to listen to my almost four-year-old granddaughter imitating me when she's reading or telling stories to others.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
I know experts say write for your intended audience, but if the story doesn't work for me, I'm not going to put it out there for anyone else to read. I have to be totally happy with it.
Too, a story I'm doing "for me" usually flows freely and rather quickly. If I feel I have to conform to some formula or to please someone else, the process seems to take longer and I'm probably not going to be happy with it.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Yes, and yes.
The saying "Nothing bad ever happens to a writer" suggests that whatever a writer experiences, good, bad, indifferent can be written about. The bad things that occur and that have been dealt with in whatever manner are now sources of conflict for your characters.
I write primarily because I love to write. But everything that's ever happened to me in my 65 years comes into play.
Does reader feed-back help you?
And I'd love to get more of it!
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I haven't participated in many contests. I don't keep up with what's out there, so I usually find out about them too late to enter. The once I did enter, it was a short story contest, I got an honorable mention.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I have done that in the past, but not lately. I'd like to be able to do so again because it helps a great deal to have someone to bounce ideas off of and who can catch flaws for me.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I think I have found my voice for the most part. Not sure I've really thought about it . . . I just write what I feel at the time.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I don't impose any disciplines really. I write as much as I can each day.
I used to write for up to 16 hours at a time back in the day. Recently, life has gotten a bit crazy, so I have to be happy with whatever I can produce in way fewer hours.
I have three works in progress, so my goal is to finish those in the soonest time possible. Since all of my characters of all my stories live in my head, they're always prodding me to get to it!
I keep saying that next week I'm going to get organized . . .!
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Usually just a nice clean desktop. But it's pretty disorganized right now. I like to have a window with a great view or at least, a decent one; but that's not an option where my office is right now.
Some drinkage and snackage and I'm good to go. Usually, iced tea or ice water with lime juice, coffee or hot chocolate. Snacks are apples, celery with peanut butter, popcorn, chips, cookies . . . I love cookies!
We live in a tiny mobile home, so if I decide I want music, I stick my ear buds in my ears and play classic country and/or oldies from the 50s and 60s.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I used to write everything longhand. "All For The Love Of Thomi" was 1280 notebook pages before I got my first computer. I was so happy with that purchase! I hated typing on a typewriter. Hated it. Writing longhand let me be freer with the creative process.
The computer took away all the stress of rewriting. So much easier! I quit writing on paper and only do it when I'm away from my laptop.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
There are some others as well. I am trying to get a Facebook page going for the author me, but . . . it's not getting done very fast.
What has been your experience with publishers?
Haven't had good ones. First of all, it's not easy to get noticed by them as once it was. The one novel I did with a co-author who handled the business end of it all, chose badly for an agent and we ended up getting published by a small publisher who was out mainly to get big money from authors for edits and such. And the edits were horrible!
So, I turned to self-publishing for my own work. Formed my own publishing entity to do it with and haven't looked back. As few sales as I have had, I still made more than I did with that traditionally published book.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on a young adult novel that should be in final edits by fall or before.
I also have a middle-grade time travel novel I did years ago for my youngest son's fifth-grade class. I'm expanding it and polishing it up. I hope to have that done by the end of this year.
And there are a few short stories looking for attention as well.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Step out of your comfort zone and show them to someone you trust. Look them over first and see how you feel about it now. Rewrite it. You'll probably find new ideas will pop into your head as you reconnect with the story. Maybe even better ones than you had at first.
Anita M Shaw