Because of Winn-Dixie, Book Giveaway, Destiny Rewritten, Kate DiCamillo, Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Peter Heller, The Dog Stars, The Year the Swallows Came Early

An Interview with Writer Kathryn Fitzmaurice and a Spectaular Giveaway

Thought for the day:

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ~ Scott Adams ~
A gift for my writer friends:
 Here are some links I think you will find valuable – three great ones this week.
For great writing advice from Kurt Vonnegut, click HERE
For help avoiding the dreaded Information Dump, click HERE
For a wonderful article on Writing Character click HERE

For my wonderful giveaway, the winner is Elizabeth Varadan! (Cue the balloon drop!) Elizabeth tweeted and posted the blog post link on Facebook for extra chances and it paid off. She is also a writer. You can find out more about her by clicking HERE. Elizabeth, I will get your copy of Destiny, Rewritten soon. Thanks for reading my blog. Enjoy! There will be another very exciting giveaway, so stay tuned and please leave comments to have a chance in the drawing.


Last week I reviewed Kathryn Fitzmaurice’s wonderful new book, Destiny, Rewritten with a giveaway of my gently-read ARC. I also promised I would have something even more exciting this week.  Hard to believe, but I am here to deliver. First I have a very generous interview with Kathryn. She answered all my questions AND she is going to send one lucky reader an autographed hardcover of this wonderful book! She just received her copies this week and is holding one of them for you, so make sure you read to the end to see how to win.
Your writing has such a great, natural flow to it. Do you spend a lot of time planning your writing – outlining and such – or is it a much more organic process for you?
Thank you, Rosi, that’s very nice of you to say.   For some books, I do an outline.  A DIAMOND IN THE DESERT had a very long outline, all done in sticky notes, which were placed on the wall of my office.  I did this so when I came back to write each day, I just picked up where I left off.  I had to do an outline for this book because there was so much information, (what happened at the camp, in the war, and in baseball) and I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave anything out.  I also made sure to send each draft to the gentleman I interviewed, so he could check it for accuracy.  For other books, though, I usually just have a very rough outline, so I know more or less where I’m going, but I like to allow things to just happen, too.  Sometimes these are the very best scenes, the ones that surprise you!  I wrote my favorite scene in DESTINY,REWRITTEN one morning, and it was not on my rough outline. 
How do you discover your fictional characters? Are they based on real people?
I think many writers use pieces of real people to make up their characters.  In my first novel, THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY, there were several characters that had a lot of my friend’s qualities in them.  (For example, Mr. Tom was actually a real homeless guy who lived on the streets in Laguna Beach.  I haven’t seen him lately, though.  And Mama was a version of my hairdresser of eleven years, who is very talented!) As I’ve written more, though, I find I can make up characters easier then when I first started. 
It’s never easy to find enough time to write, especially when you have a family. What gets in the way for you? How do you find time to write?
Since my oldest son is now off to college on the east coast, and my youngest is a junior in high school, and my husband commutes to Los Angeles every day, I have the house to myself most days and try to write after walking the dog each morning.  When my youngest son gets home from school, though, he takes over my office to do his homework! 
This is your third book. Do you have a favorite? Which was the hardest to write and why?
I don’t think I do have a favorite.  I like them all for different reasons.  (This is what I’m supposed to say!)  A DIAMOND IN THE DESERT was definitely the hardest to write.  I had to do a lot of research before I even wrote one word.  And I had to send it back and forth to the gentleman who I was interviewing, Tetsuo Furukawa.  He read every draft for accuracy because I wanted to make sure all of my details were correct.  He would mark up each draft with notes.  I still have all of his notes!
Kathryn Fitzmaurice
What did you like to read when you were in middle school?
Poetry.  I wanted to be a poet for the longest time.  I have notebooks full of poetry! 
What is the last book you read?
THE DOG STARS, by Peter Heller.  I loved this book.  I could not put it down!
Who is your favorite author and why?
Kate DiCamillo because I remember reading BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE with my oldest son when he was in second grade and when Opal had her father tell her ten things about her mother right after she brought home Winn-Dixie, and then Opal went back into her room and memorized those ten things so when she found her mother she would know her….I thought, my gosh, this is brilliant, this is amazing and heartfelt and how did she do that?… and I want to someday, hopefully, write something this special. 
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given as a writer?
My grandmother, Eleanor Robinson, who was a science fiction author, told me to write what I know.  I try to do this, but there are days I wish I could go to lunch with her and ask her how.  I didn’t really start writing seriously until after she passed away, and so I read her books and study her techniques.  I try to see how she did things, how she carried her plot, grew her characters, etc., but it’s hard sometimes, only having her books and a few notes from her unpublished manuscripts. 
What advice would you pass along to those of us who haven’t gotten that first book published?  
I would say to attend as many conferences and writing retreats as possible.  You never know who you might meet that could be interested in your story.   Also, I think being a part of a critique group is a good idea because writers need support and feedback
I’ve loved all three of your books and am looking forward to the next. What is next for you?
Thank you, Rosi!  I am working on a half-fantasy/half real-life book.  I keep changing things as I go but I’m slowly writing through the story.  Yesterday I deleted a lot of it, parts I didn’t like.  Sometimes that’s necessary.  First drafts can be messy!  
Thank you for so generously sharing your time and thoughts. Is there anything I didn’t ask about that you’d like to tell us?
I have a wonderful dog that is named Holly who sits with me everyday on her feather pillow as I write.  At 3pm each afternoon, she puts her paws on my legs and tells me it’s time for her dinner.  I don’t know how she knows it’s 3pm, but she does. 
Thank you for interviewing me.  
And thank you, Kathryn, for being here and answering so many questions. I’m sure everyone will enjoy this.
Please leave a comment to have your name in the drawing. If you Tweet the link to this post or put it on FaceBook or put it on your blog post, please let me know and I will put your name in a second time.  I will post the winner on my next post, so check back. And next week I have something even more exciting for you won’t want to miss!
Don’t forget to stop by Shannon Messenger’s wonderful blog for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday links. Click HEREto find it.
On the book giveaway, this is for U.S. only. Sorry, but it would be too expensive for me to send books out of the country. But please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Remember, if you have trouble leaving a comment, click on the title of the post and it will give you just this post with a comments section on the bottom. Also, if you haven’t signed up by email, please do. Just look in the upper right-hand corner of this page, pop your email address in, and you will receive an email each time I put up a new post. Your information will not be shared with anyone.           

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