Monday, December 16, 2013

#MGBookElves: Interview with Cool Mom from Stanley and Katrina!


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 Last month we reviewed the delightful middle grade novel, The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of PetsToday, we are delighted to interview, not the author, but the author's Mom!  That's right.  The author of that charming work is "just a kid" (and if you can use that phrase with a straight face after reading the book, there's something wrong with you!).  I caught up with Christine, AKA Cool Mom from Stanley and Katrina, Pet Authors, for a few tips on parenting a writer (and many thanks to Christine for providing the link to allow you to tweet this post!).
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1.  Your daughter was only 9 when she wrote The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets. Were you aware what she was doing?  At what point did she involve you in the process, and when did you both decide she should publish?
It seems a bit crazy, but, yes, she was 9 when she wrote The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets (TPPotPoP). Felicia participated in NaNoWriMo YWP, (That's the National Novel Writing Month Youth Writing Project for those who don't want to click through) last November, after completing ScriptFrenzy, in April of 2012. She was highly motivated during NaNoWriMo by the idea of winning free printed copies from CreateSpace.  During November of last year, my role was primarily to be her encourager as well as someone to bounce ideas off of as needed. NaNoWriMo was fantastic for teaching her that the writing process has different stages, and for that very first stage, turning off your inner editor can be rewarding. Publishing her book for anything more than our own family's bookshelf was never the goal. Stanley and Katrina, her characters, seem to have taken on a life of their own. Our family is enjoying the journey.


2.  Nurturing a young talent is a tricky thing.  You have to maintain a balance between support/encouragement and pushing them to improve the work.  What was the hardest thing for you about having your daughter publish a book?
Initially, reviews of her book were the hardest thing for me. Felicia has never wanted TPPotPoP to be treated differently from any other book on the market. My fear was that she would receive harshly critical reviews that might cause her to stop enjoying writing. Thankfully, the few critical reviews she has received to date have only motivated her more. At the moment, the hardest thing is keeping her balanced and making time for her to just be a kid. She needs her down time and I find protecting that has become an extremely important part of my job and my husband’s job as her parents.


3.  I believe you served as general editor for the Perpetual Papers.  Was it difficult to manage the tone of the work--to keep her (child's) voice while at the same time insisting on meeting certain standards of writing and plotting?  I have a couple of sons, and I've never been able to tell them much of anything--did you get a lot of pushback?   
Oh, yes! When she was motivated to truly publish her book for a serious audience, we definitely had push-back during editing.  The punctuation, grammar, capitalization and such were the easy parts. She did a great job with her first draft and that made my job easy. It was important to me to protect that her book continued to remain her work throughout editing.  I focused on pointing out to Felicia when things didn't make any sense, or if I thought she might be able to add more to the story to be sure her readers understood what she was trying to say. To assist the process, we decided to enlist others in the beta reading and editing. Felicia had two wonderful friends and four adults read through her book and act as editors. When she learned that I wasn't the only one having trouble with a certain spot, it made it easier for her to see that it was something that truly needed to be addressed.


4.  On the same lines, my 16-y.o. has been writing a book for the last year plus, and it's got great potential, but he has zero interest in the hard work that is revision.  How did you inspire Neighbor Girl to make that effort?  Or where did she get the idea that she could/should put more effort into it?
There isn't much my husband or I can do to motivate Felicia if she doesn't want to do something. When I find an area of interest for her, I keep an eye out for contests, projects and awards that might be available to her and present them to her for her consideration. Sites such as Hoagies Gifted is a great place to start:  http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/contests.htm.  
  
For TPPotPoP, Felicia happened on a huge motivator to get her through editing speedily - not that I recommend the timeline she had to anyone. We were traditionally homeschooling Felicia last year, but discovered a charter school that appeared to be a great fit for her. After attending an open house and learning she needed two writing samples included in her application to the school, Felicia decided that she  would like TPPotPoP to be one of her writing samples. It gave her about four weeks to get through editing, proofing and printing her book. It was entirely her decision and it motivated her well. That early copy of her book had some things we missed for sure - as I said, I wouldn’t recommend rushing through editing, but it got her to the next level.  I’m thrilled to share that she was accepted to the school and it has proven to be a great fit for her.
  
Inspiring your child is sometimes about finding the thing that motivates them and jumping in with both feet. Getting past the fear of trying is half the battle in most cases. One of our favorite acronyms is F.A.I.L.

5.  Finally, an under-age author faces extra challenges in the internet world.  I know you have acted as her voice on most discussion boards and forums.  Talk a little bit about protecting her privacy and finding the balance with that and the need for an author to have a public presence.
All accounts are in my name or our names together, and I am the first line of communication to anyone who reaches out to Stanley & Katrina online. Felicia is not old enough to have any of the online accounts on her own.   While I administer the content on her blog, nothing gets posted without her approval - other than books that I have reviewed.  She creates all of Katrina's Word of the Week sentences and handles the Wordless Wednesday pictures.


6.  Finally, any other advice for parents who have talented kids?  (In answer to this question, Christine sent the following lovely graphic!):


  Thanks for having me, Rebecca!

So glad to have the chance to chat!
 


Christine is also known as Cool Mom on the Stanley & Katrina blog. She is the mother to Felicia, aka Neighbor Girl, and is the personal assistant to the pets and Felicia. Christine acts as their web administrator as well as their social media manager. Visit her hobby project www.KidLitPrintables.com


Felicia is known as Neighbor Girl on the Stanley & Katrina blog. She is the author of The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets. She loves writing, reading, acting, singing, reading, gymnastics, doodling, reading, ice skating, painting, reading, doing computer stuff… did we mention reading? Her latest creative project is organizing the D.I.R.T. Kids.







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9 comments:

  1. Thanks for having me, Rebecca! Anyone have any additional ideas for inspiring/motivating your kids?

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  2. Really glad to have the chance to talk about our kids, Christine!

    Yes--anyone with thoughts about parenting, speak up!

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  3. I'm inspired by this, so I hope everyone else is :)

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    1. :D Inspired to write, or inspired to raise some kids? I'll send you mine. . .

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  4. Christine, I'm so glad you tweeted about this older post. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing more about you and your approach to Felicia's interests. I think you're ALL (this includes hubby) phenomenal! :)

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  5. Thanks, Donna! You are too kind (*blushing*). We do our best from day to day... as we all are doing, right? : ) Thanks for taking the time to read the post on Rebecca's blog and especially for taking the time to comment. {{Hugs}}

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  6. Thanks, Christine, for tagging back to this post, and thanks, Donna, for dropping by!

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