Quote of the day:
"If a person gives you his time,
he can give you no more precious gift."
Today I'm pleased to introduce Nancy (Kelly) Allen, an author who hails from Hazard, Kentucky, USA. Nancy is an award-winning author of numerous picture books, both fictional and nonfictional. She has one chapter book and is in the process of writing more. Nancy conducts school visits and writing workshops and specialises in children's books.
Nancy Allen - Guest Author
NANCY, TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I started writing before I could read. Yeah, that’s possible. My mother had an old Royal
typewriter and I banged on the keys, writing scribble. I carefully rolled out
the sheet of paper, handed it to my mother with the pride and joy of a
Pulitzer-prize winning author, and asked her to read my creation. My mother
read a fascinating story aloud to me. I couldn’t believe my ears. I wrote that!
Years later, when I attended the University of Kentucky’s library science
program, I simply became enchanted with the world of picture books. I
remembered the stories I used to write on the old typewriter and the stories my
father told. Hummmm! The idea of writing children’s books clicked. My life as a librarian, reading and working with children, reinforced the idea and gave me confidence. I began to write for publication when I was about forty-years-old.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
In 1989, I started writing professionally; that means with the hope
of getting paid for something I’d written. Each day I read books to students
and with each book, I thought, I can do this. Stories began rolling around in
my head. I began by writing articles for academic periodicals, such as Book Links and Good
Apple, magazines used by elementary school teachers. Mostly, I wrote book
reviews and classroom activities to use with the books. I was a school
librarian at the time. After reading so many picture books day after day to
students, I fell in love with books over and over again. One day I decided to
give picture book writing a try. In publishing I’ve learned to never get in a hurry. Ten looooooong years later I held my first book in my hands, a dream come true.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I love the thrill of the chase: taking an idea and chasing it until it
conceptualizes into a story that will work as a children’s book. Each aspect of
the journey is exciting. Playing with the idea and tossing in possibilities
until some of the possibilities stick and the idea develops into a story. I
also like revision. Getting the first draft is the hardest part. Revision makes
the story sparkle and shine. I love to see that happen. I also love to meet
fans of my writing. Hearing “Read it again!” is music to my ears.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Finding time to work on a story. I schedule writing time; otherwise, I’m afraid the day
would be gone before I strung two words together to form a plot.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A
My route to writing has more twists and turns than a winding mountain road. I started my career as a social worker, later became a middle school social studies teacher before
becoming an elementary school librarian.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
I’ve won two awards of which I’m thrilled: The Appalachian Writers Association Book
of the Year in Children’s Literature for On the Banks of the Amazon and
another of my books, Trouble in Troublesome Creek, represented Kentucky
at the National Book Festival.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I’m working on a nonfiction picture book about animals and revising a fictional
story about space aliens.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Meeting and talking with fans of my book inspire me as well as talking with other writers. Probably nothing is more inspiring that when an idea pops into my head and I realize the
potential to develop the idea into a children’s book is a real possibility.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I write picture books, fiction and nonfiction. Some are mysteries, historical
fiction, and most have humor stuck into the narrative.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Read the type of books you would like to write. Read. Read. Read. Attend workshops on the craft of writing. And write. Write. Write. Take writing seriously. Much of my writing
has elements of humor scattered throughout, but remember, writing humor is
serious business. Treat writing as you would any job. Jobs require time and effort and attention.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
No, if I can’t figure out how to write a story, I begin a new one.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I enjoy writing in the morning. My mind seems fresher then.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I write at my desk, which is located at the foot of the stairs.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Holding my book for the first time. That’s always a thrill. Oh, and getting a contract
accepted. I shout with joy every time.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I have several authors in mind, but if I have to choose just one, I’ll go with
Bill Martin Jr. I love the cadence of the flow of words as well as the story.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED
FROM A READER?
Readers sometimes tell me that I have written their favorite book. It doesn’t get any
better than that.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
When asked, “Do you plan on writing a real book?” The person didn’t consider a
picture book a real book.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Absolutely. One day I was reading an article about pink dolphins. I was so intrigued I wrote, On the Banks of the Amazon, which has a page about pink dolphins.
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
Twenty-three picture books with five more in stages of production, one chapter book, one
booklet, Read To Me! I Will Listen, and one cookbook.
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I don’t race cars or tell fortunes, but I do a lot of reading. I read children’s
books and adult mystery and suspense books. I have two canine muses that work
as my writing assistants when we aren’t chasing around the house in a game of
fetch. I do all the fetching, but that’s okay. And I like to tinker with
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY
EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
No, but I have a critique partner that edits all my manuscripts.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
A day in which I write, read, and play. I love water and boating and spending
time with my schnauzers and husband. Eating cheesecake, too. Yum!
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I plan to continue with my writing career, including dreaming up more stories,
talking with students about writing, and conducting writing workshops.
Thanks Nancy. Now, go and chomp into some cheesecake whilst we check out your website.
Don't be shy ... send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for listening.
I'm Clancy Tucker