Sunday, August 28, 2016

Interview with Doraine Bennett

Doraine, it was so good to meet you and talk to you about how you got started writing nonfiction. Please tell us a bit about what you write.

I have written a lot of nonfiction. I think because I like the research part of writing more than because I love nonfiction. I know that sounds a bit strange, but I do like taking complicated ideas and writing them in an understandable way. I worked as editor for a military magazine for eight years and one of the challenges was to make all that complicated strategy stuff accessible to an average reader. It was a fun challenge, at least on the days I didn’t want to pull my hair out. 

I’ve tried some picture books, but haven’t quite found the knack of getting a story into 700 words or less. And I’ve written one novel which will probably remain in a bottom drawer from now on. 

I love writing poetry. I like forms and I like free verse. I especially enjoy the Poetry Friday community in the Kidslitosphere and all the poetry sharing each week. 

How long have you been writing?

Officially in the children’s world, since about 2002. Before that I wrote newsletters. I’ve pretty much always kept a journal since my mother gave me a five-year-diary when I was eight. I was totally absorbed in what I ate for breakfast and what I made on spelling tests. 

You have written for a series of nonfiction books: America, My Country American Heroes. Please tell us how you found out about this series.

I worked as a sales rep for Delaney Educational Enterprises for nine years, selling books from about 150 publishers into schools. We met for presentations from publishers on their new books for spring and fall every year and I crossed paths with editors from several of those educational publishers. The editor from State Standards Publishing was one of those editors. She was a small publisher targeting state history standards. I wrote a number of series for her. America My Country was one of them. The educational market is a bit of a different animal from traditional trade publishers. Few of them are looking for stand-alone books. They want a series. It means more sales. It was a doorway into the publishing world for me. 

How did you break into writing nonfiction.
It was simply what the publisher wanted at the time, although I’ve always loved history. I would have written most anything, but she needed Georgia history standards. So that’s what I wrote. Second grade reading level for Georgia. Tell this life story in 200 words or less using no contractions, no introductory phrases and no words that register higher than a third grade reading level. It was a bit like putting together a puzzle. 

What tips can you give writers wanting to break into nonfiction?
You have to love the research. You can’t be afraid to talk to experts. You must keep exact records of where you got every tidbit of information. And when you spit it all back out, it has to sound like a story. 

Did you have to supply the photos/images? What tips can you share for this?
I have never been asked to supply the photos for any of my books, although when I came across one that I thought especially good, I might include the url for the editor to check. Interesting, when the proofs came back with photos included, we often had to make revisions to the text based on which photos she chose.

What are you working on now?
I began working on a couple of poetry projects this year. I think I needed a break from the educational world. Right now I’m working on a historical novel in verse. It’s a big project and I’m only about half way through. 

I recently read Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle. Here is an excerpt that has me pondering my work in progress:

I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius, or something very small, comes to the artist and says, “Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me. And the artist either says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” and willingly becomes the bearer of the work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary…then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve. The amount of the artist’s talent is not what it’s about.

I’m asking myself how I serve this work. We’ll see what happens.


Doraine Bennett

Please leave a comment or enter through rafflecoptor to win The After-Room by Maile Meloy or Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney

August book giveaway by Aine Greaney

Let's face it not all of us can afford to quit our day job and write full time. My day job has benefits that I just can't afford to lose at this time in my life. But that doesn't mean I can't have a writing career too.
Sometimes I do struggle to find the time or have difficulty looking for the right word, finding the right market to tap, or just having time to research!
If you are working full time and want to write too, then this is the book for you.

At 233 pages, Aine Greaney gives you lots of resources and encouragement to keep doing what you love. It is divided into five sections:
Section 1: Getting Started
Section 2: Let's Go - Start the habit of daily writing
Section 3:Integrating Writing into your work day
Section 4:Making Your Writing Better: Reviewing and Revising
Section 5: Twenty Author Interviews
It also includes an index.

Writer Beware tips are scattered throughout  the text, lists of free resources with links are posted and thoughts on rising early or writing after work.

I love the section on integrating writing in your work day. The titles of the chapters in this section are:
Chapter 8: Drive Time: thinking out loud on the Road
Tutorial 3: Creating memorable characters
Chapter 9: All Aboard! Turn your train ride or bus ride into writing time.
Tutorial 4: Writing Great Setting
Chapter 10: Before, During and After Work: Grab your writing time when you can
Chapter 11: Writers, Take Back Your Lunch Hour ( I don't have an hour)
Tutorial 5: Writing Dialogue
Chapter 12: Truth and Fiction: Writing About Other People- Including Your Colleagues.

If you would like to win this book please leave a comment or enter through  the Rafflecoptor.

See you next week!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The After-Room by Maile Meloy

The After-Room by Maile Meloy is the third and last book in the Apothecary trilogy. If you haven't read these books, then you have a surprise waiting for you! These books are a mixture of science-fiction and magic. The Apothecary is a long established society of herbalists who use plants to do all sorts of things from turning yourself into a bird so you can fly to stopping a nuclear bomb.

In this third book, Benjamin is desperately trying to communicate with his dead father. Or is he really dead? Is he able to free his father from the After-Room as Benjamin calls it? His friend Janie Scott is worried about Benjamin. What if he goes to the After-room and is unable to come back?

Then on the other side of the world Jin Lo with the help of Ned Maddox, is trying to stop a madman from blowing up China.

Add to all this historical fiction! This is an unbeatable combination.

If you would like a chance to win this third book in the series, please leave a comment, tweet or enter using the Rafflecoptor.

Also, I am waiting on Alana White to claim her prize A Hitch at the Fairmont by Jim Averbeck.

See you next week when I talk about the book Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Congratulations to July Winners Alana White and Nancy K Allen

Congratulations to Nancy K. Allen for winning the book Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and to Alana White for winning A Hitch at the Fairmont by Jim Averbeck.

Please send me the addresses you would like the books shipped to. My e-mail is

Thank you for visiting my blog.
For those that didn't win this don't despair! Here are the title for August:
Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney and After Room by Maile Meloy.

More about these books next week, but you can enter to win by leaving a comment or entering through the rafflecoptor.

See you next week!