Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay archives, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Entries in migwriters (14)


Interview With YA Author S.J. Laidlaw About Process, Persistence and AN INFIDEL IN PARADISE


I met Susan Laidlaw through the MiG Writer Critique Group and was excited to hear about the publication of her upcoming book, AN INFIDEL IN PARADISE, which comes out from Tundra on February 12th, 2013. I'm so looking forwarding to meeting Susan in person for the first time when all the MiGs get together at the SCBWI Winter Conference next week!

Set in Pakistan, AN INFIDEL IN PARADISE is the story of a teen girl living with her mother and siblings in a diplomatic compound. As if getting used to another new country and set of customs and friends isn't enough, she must cope with an increasingly tense political situation that becomes dangerous with alarming speed. Her life and those of her sister and brother depend on her resourcefulness and the unexpected help of an enigmatic Muslim classmate.

Q. What is your writing process?

In terms of scheduling my writing, I’m a very early riser and I’m always most creative first thing in the morning. Ideas percolate throughout the night. I often wake up in the night thinking about my stories, but I only rarely get up to write down my thoughts. Usually, I wait till morning.

I don’t set out a specific number of hours to write but I do try to write every morning and keep going until I feel I’m no longer being productive. Sometimes that’s only 3-4 hours but sometimes I’ll keep going all day. If I’m having a really good writing day, dishes are piled in the sink and we’re having tuna sandwiches for dinner.

I do a basic outline and a basic character sketch of my main characters. I find it helpful to have an idea where I’m going, even if I diverge, which I often do. I like to really think about all my characters’ backstories and motivations. Even if they aren’t central to the plot, I need to understand who they are to bring them to life.

Getting comfortable with the character’s way of looking at the world is also important. I’ve worked as an adolescent counselor for most of my career, so looking at life from a teen perspective is actually very natural to me but when I was writing AN INFIDEL IN PARADISE, I made a point of immersing myself in books with similarly aged main characters. I particularly liked reading books whose main characters were angry or a little snarky, as Emma, my main character, is both.

For about a year now, I’ve been working on my second novel. I wrote it, sold it, and now I’m in revisions with my wonderful editor, Sue Tate, from Tundra Books. This time I’ve been reading a lot of Young Adult novels with male protagonists, since the main character of my second novel is a 17-year-old boy. I particularly like novels with a bit of humor, since that’s an element of my writing, but I’ll really read anything from the young adult male perspective.

If I find a book that is particularly inspiring, I’ll keep it close at hand and re-read sections of it when I feel stalled on my own writing. If I’m really blocked I may take multiple writing breaks to just curl up and read. That’s one of the things I love about being a writer, you can fritter away hours doing your favourite activity and still call it work.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is one book that I re-read many times while writing my second novel. I’m also a massive, nerdy, John Green fan. I truly hope I never meet him because I know I’ll make a total fool of myself.

Q. If you could give your younger self advice about the craft or business of writing, what would you tell her?

Over twenty years ago I wrote my first book. I sent it off to one publisher. It was turned down but the editor wrote me a very nice handwritten note saying the book wasn’t a good fit for her publishing house but she’d like to see more of my work. I was devastated and didn’t try sending out my work again until just a few years ago. I realize now that that personal note was actually quite an endorsement and I shouldn’t have given up for twenty years.

So I guess my advice to anyone who enjoys writing is, don’t give up. You’re going to suffer rejection along the way. Look at it as part of the process and just keep sending your work out there.

One second piece of advice and it’s equally important is find a good writer’s support group. Being part of MiG Writers has been hugely beneficial to me and it’s not even for the critiquing so much as all the other things, sharing information, encouraging each other, celebrating each other successes, interviewing each other – Thanks for this, by the way.

Writing is by definition something you do by yourself. It’s a reflective, contemplative, process, as is it should be, but publishing is the opposite. It’s all about getting your name out there, getting people to notice you. This isn’t necessarily something that comes naturally to most writers – it certainly doesn’t to me - but having writing friends can make it a lot less intimidating.

Q. Any upcoming projects or events you'd like to mention?

I'm very excited about my second book, which I'm currently revising. It's set in Utila, a tiny island off the coast of Honduras, where my husband and I have a cottage. I've always used Utila as a place to write because there are no distractions, but it's also an ideal location for a mystery. More than half the island is completely deserted, just jungle and mangrove swamp. It's also a bit of a lawless place, particularly in recent months, though Utilans are working hard to keep the problems under control.

In my second novel, the main character's sister goes to Utila to study whale sharks. Utila's also one of the best places in the world to actually snorkel with whale sharks. I've done it myself. Anyway, Luke's sister goes to Utila to work at the whale shark research center - which does actually exist - but one night she disappears without a trace. The authorities think she must have drowned but they can't produce a body and Luke doesn't believe it, so he sets out to Utila to find her.

If everything goes according to schedule, that novel will be out in 2014. I just need to finish these revisions by March!


You can find out more about Susan Laidlaw and her work at:

S.J. Laidlaw website

On Facebook

On Twitter: @SusanLaidlaw1

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15767359-an-infidel-in-paradise


Also see other Inkygirl Interviews.


Work goals for 2013: MiG Writers

I mentioned earlier that the members of my MiG Writers critique group have all posted their work goals for the coming year: here's the post. Thanks to Christy Farley (whose YA novel GILDED debuts this November) for putting this post together!

One of the reasons I'm so looking forward to the SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC later this month is because it'll be the first time that all the members of MiG Writers will be meeting in person!

You can find out more about us on our blog: http://migwriters.blogspot.com.


Google+ Chat with my MiG writer friend, Christina Farley

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As much as I enjoy e-mail and online message boards, there's nothing like being able to hear a person's voice and seeing their face while you're chatting. So it was exciting for me to finally be able to "meet" my MiG writer friend, Christina Farley, via Google+ Chat this afternoon. SO much fun!!

Christy posts about kidlit/YA in her Chocolate For Inspiration blog -- what a great blog title. :-) Christy's one of the most productive writers I know, so i was quizzing her about how she does it, and also got some classroom presentation advice.

And she has some VERY EXCITING book news which she hopes to able to share publicly very, very soon...


MiGwriters Blog Update: Interview with Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown Ltd

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As I mentioned earlier, my MiGwriters group is posting a series of interviews with our agents all this week.

Up today: Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown (MY agent, woohoo!)


This week on MiGwriters: meet our agents from Transatlantic, Curtis Brown, Jennifer DeChiara and Jennifer Lyons

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Today's MiGwriters blog interview is with Andrea Cascardi of Translatlantic Literary Agency.

Tomorrow: my agent, Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown!


Coming up on MiGwriters: Interviews With Our Agents From Transatlantic, Curtis Brown, JenniferDeChiara and Jennifer Lyons

One of my MiGwriter critique partners, Christina Farley, came up with a great idea: to interview our literary agents for our blog. So starting next Monday, we'll be posting info and interviews with our agents from Transatlantic, Curtis Brown, JenniferDeChiara and Jennifer Lyons literary agencies.

See the MiGwriters blog and please do "Like" the MiGwriters Facebook Page for updates.



MiG Writers Blog: meeting one of my critique partners face-to-face for the first time!

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I just posted on the MiG Writers blog about finally getting to meet one of my MiG Writer friends face-to-face for the first time.


Comics for writers, Will Write For Chocolate and thoughts on self-publishing


MiG Writer Post: How To Create A Successful Unreliable Narrator in Middle Grade Fiction

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Kate Fall has a great post about how to create a successful "unreliable narrator" in middle grade fiction on the MiG Writers Blog. An excerpt:

The trick is to present both what is really going on and what the character is thinking, and to have some reason why the character sees the world as it isn't. I think if you can pull that off, you can have a successfully unreliable middle grade narrator.

Find out more by reading the full post.


Carmella Van Vleet on writing nonfiction & SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD

7 wondersI feel very lucky to be part of the MiG Writers' Critique Group. Recently, one of our members debuted a nonfiction book: SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD - Discover Amazing Monuments To Civilizations.

Carmella Van Vleet was kind (or brave?) enough to let her fellow MiG writers interview her. Do visit our MiG Writers' blog for some of Carmella's insights into writing nonfiction for young people as well as a chance to win an autographed copy of her new book.


My writing critique group made me cry

So my writing critique group, MiG Writers, made me cry this morning. Just recently one of them asked me what my favorite picture book and favorite middle grade book was. I told them heck, that's a hard question but if I had to choose, here's what I'd choose.

Well, this morning I logged into my e-mail to find the following video and blog posting:

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Feeling very, very lucky to have found this group of women. We've all become friends in addition to critique partners, supporting each other in so much more than just our writing projects.

Anyway, please do join the party over on the MiG Writers blog. :-)

And to my fellow MiG Writers: THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Writers & Voice: my MiG Writers' blog series

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I've started a blog series over on the MiG Writers blog about writers and voice, for those interested. Today's post:

Stephen Pressfield & the Fabrication of Voice


My post about time management, creative productivity, managing multiple projects

For those interested, I have a new post up on the MiG Writers site:

Time Management, Creative Productivity and Multitasking


Win a 10 page critique from my writers' group!

I'm pleased to announce that my critique group, MiG Writers, is offering a 10-page critique as part of our celebration of our new digs at Blogspot. You can find the rules here (please enter over on the MiG Writers site, not in Inkygirl, thanks).