February's Inspirational Quote

"One Hour at a Time"
~ Laurie Wallmark.

Dear Laurie,
You might not recall saying this and perhaps I won't remember the specifics but you are our inspiration for the rest of February and maybe even March.

You and I were on the phone and talking about how hard it is to write a novel and as usual I was whining and feeling sorry for my long-a$$ journey. And you told me about how you were working and how busy you were so you wrote your novel one hour at a time. Astounded I said, "You wrote your novel one hour at a time?" And you said, "Yup." And I thought, "Wow... ... ..."

Often times we think we need - or I think I need - huge chunks of time set aside so I can write. Do you do that too? What if we gave ourselves one hour of each day? If it turns into two, well then fine, but if not, at least you still had your One Hour at a Time. So that is the motto of the month, thanks to ours truly, Laurie Wallmark.

We love you, Laurie!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

An Interview with Loren Spiotta Di-Mare

Hi Loren! We are very exciting about having you come to the HCL on March 15 to share your experiences with us about being a published children's book author. I thought we could provide our members with a teaser of the day to come. So...

Sheri: How old were you when you decided writing would be the career path you would take?
Loren: Had my first article published at 19 and my first book at 22.

Sheri:Did you always know you would write for children?
Loren: No, actually I was a magazine journalist for about 17 years and had written two pet-care books. I was looking for a new creative challenge and took a class in writing picture books for children at Seton Hall.

Sheri: What is your favorite subject to write about?
Loren: Animals. In fact, I consider myself an animal writer whether I’m writing a magazine article, adult pet-care book, children’s picture book or promotional material.

Sheri: What was your first book you published? Was it self-published or published by a traditional publishing house?
Loren: My first book, Macaws, was published by T.F. H Publications in 1979. My first children’s book, Caesar: On Deaf Ears, was published by The Benefactory in 1997. (They’re a small publisher devoted to producing true animal stories in picture book form.) I didn’t start self-publishing until recently.

Sheri: In your opinion, what is the benefit of self-publishing, or of traditional publishing?
Loren: At this stage of my career, I enjoy self-publishing because I have complete control of the story, illustration, design, printing etc. However, I’m also a publicist and enjoy marketing. Marketing skills are the key to success in self-publishing. With traditional publishing you are paid for your work (always nice) and receive the “respect” of being published by a traditional publisher. I promote all of my books regardless of how they are produced. Your members should know not all publications will review a self-published book.

Sheri: About how long does it take for you to write a book from idea to final copy?
Loren: A pet-care book can take up to two years. A children’s picture book a few months.

Sheri: About how long until the final copy is in print on shelves?
Loren: From the time I wrote my first children’s book until the time it was published took 11 years. That was Chelsea & The New Puppy. During that time, I had two other picture books published. Two to three years is not uncommon. And btw, no guarantee it will be on shelves.

Sheri: Good point, Loren. What do you think is the number one mistake of new writers?
Loren: Not realizing what a really tough business publishing is. It may appear glamorous to those on the outside but it is a long, hard journey for those who make a career of it. You must love the process and appreciate the benefits other than financial gain. In my case, readers have contacted me to let me know they have brought a certain breed of dog into their family as a result of reading one of my books. It’s extremely rewarding to have that kind of impact.

Sheri: What do you do to avoid or deal with writer's block?
Loren: Haven’t experienced it in years. My problem is having so many ideas and juggling numerous projects at once. Always feel I must improve my time management skills.

Sheri: Ready for the speed round now...
What's your favorite color? Yellow
Which do you prefer, writing at home, or on a writer's retreat? Home
Favorite adult book? Marley and Me
Favorite TV show? Wildfire (new series revolving around a race horse)
Favorite Movie? The Black Stallion or Black Beauty
What author inspires you? Albert Payson Terhune He wrote a series of children’s books about Collies that I’m sure had a great impact on my career.

Thanks, Loren. I think March 15th is going to be a lot of fun, informative, and inspiring! So please join us at the Hunterdon County Library on March 15 from 1 - 3 for a discussion about the children's book industry, traditional publishing, and self-publishing, and a book signing event! Oh, and bring a friend! We are presently recruiting new members to HCCWG, especially picture book writers.

See ya Saturday! Until then, happy writing everyone!

Sheri ks, ks


LEEZY said...

Great interview Sheri. Thank you! I think Loren has a lot to bring to the table in terms of experience, trade- and self-publishing and marketing background. Anyone attending the event will definitely benefit from what she has to share. I highly recommend people to attend for sure! Sorry I won't be there — busy having too much fun in the UK!

See you in April!

Sheri said...

Thank you Leeza. We will definitely miss you on the 15th!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview. I loved what Loren said about writing not just being about the financial rewards of publication and needing to enjoy the process. As a writer who has not earned a dime, but still loving the process, I feel validated!

Sheri said...

Thanks anonymous!I agree - anyone who writes for the financial rewards will not be very happy. We write because we have no other choice! I don't think anyone CHOOSES to be a writer. I think being a writer - or an artist of any kind - chooses YOU!

Patricia said...


What a fabulous interview! Your talents are boundless. Can't wait to see Loren again ... and purchase her newest book for my little nephew.

Sheri said...

Pat you are too funny... yes my talents are limitless... you should have seen me today at the tax accountant's. I was awesome with all my excel spreadsheets showing my expenses for the year - including my SCBWI dues.

Yes, it's tax time ladies and gentlemen and if you are a writer, you are entitled to some pretty helpful and legitimate write-offs!

Anonymous said...

Yellow? Must be because of all the urine from those pets!

Sheri said...

Yellow is a cheerful color. It is the color of the sun. It is the color of a sunflower.