Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hunger Mountain, Young Adult & Children's--Submission Call

Calling Children’s Authors and Illustrators
2011 Submissions Needs for Hunger Mountain Young Adult and Children’s page.

The Hunger Mountain Children’s and YA page is now going to be rolling content, updating the site with new work every few weeks. We will still have themed issues. The next two issues themes are below.
*Also interested in sneak-peaks into new books coming out, deleted chapters from books, short stories, etc.* Hunger Mountain buys first world serial rights and upon publication, the rights revert back to the contributor. For sneak-peaks, publisher and rights department approval is needed.

May-Sept 2011
The Varying Shades of Shadows
We would love to see pieces that play with light and darkness (figuratively and literally), a fabulous piece with an unreliable narrator (or on the delicate balance of writing an unreliable narrator), or pieces where secondary characters are shaded so well that they not only support the main character but truly help flesh out the work. 

*Please note, I am looking to do more with illustrators and will be debuting a Inside the Illustrator’s Studio column—taking an inside look via photos at a WIP by an illustrator. We are featuring Don Tate in the column premiere.

Sept-December 2011
The Art (and Insanity) of Creativity
We will be looking for pieces to address: tapping in to your inner artist, what we do artistically outside of our writing/illustrating to keep creative, the joys and pitfalls of leading a creative life, can writing be taught?, the elusiveness of artistry, hitting the creative wall and breaking through, the sacrifices (time, sleep, television) we make to get the work done, etc. 

Along with our features, each issue we would like to include one or two essays for our regular columns:

The Flipside—two authors various take on one issue.
This Writer’s Life—essays on and about the writer’s life.
INKlings—essays on and about the illustrator’s life and/or techniques.
In Response—an essay adding to or commenting on the conversation from the prior HM issue.
The Toolbox—craft based essays on a variety of topics.
What My Last Book Taught Me—A short essay on what the author’s last book taught them.
New Work—fiction, poetry, short stories, opening chapters of WIP, etc. 

If you are a published author or have met me in person, you may email content or pitches for essays/articles to me at bahegedus at If you are a yet-to-be published writer, please submit using the Hunger Mountain online submissions manager. See here for details:

Please feel free to share these submission needs with local SCWBIs and/or other writer organizations in your area. Thank you!

Visit the Hunger Mountain Young Adult and Children's Literature Archives.


Thank you and I look forward to your submissions!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Inside the Writer's Studio, with Jo Whittemore author of Odd Girl In

Today at Inside the Writer’s Studio we have with us the hilariously funny, Jo Whittemore. Jo is the kind of author one can call on in a pinch. When I moved last year, Jo and her husband (the man who can wear a loveseat as a hat and carry it up and down three flights of stairs) were the first to arrive. Jo is that kind of gal. She shows up—in life and on the page. And in both efforts, she is the perfect combination of funny and wise. Jo is here to celebrate her new release, Odd Girl In.

Here is a bit more about Odd Girl In.

Alexis "Alex" Evins is a first-class prankster. When she plays a particularly disastrous prank (hair + fire=bad), her dad sends Alex (and her older brothers) to a character-building after-school program. There, the Evins siblings are faced with the ultimate test of teamwork, leadership, and responsibility. Can the "Evil Evins" pass the course in one piece, or are they destined for an epic fail?

And what are the reviewers saying?

"...witty, laugh-out-loud romp. Whittemore handles not only the comedy but deftly portrays Alex’s and her brothers’ advancement into a more mature state of mind. It should keep middle-schoolers laughing from start to finish. Funny and perky."--Kirkus

"Secondary characters have surprising depth. There’s plenty of humor along the way to redemption and healing as Alex and her brothers learn to work as a team and as a family."--School Library Journal

Thanks for being here Jo!

How do you stay inspired to face the dreaded blank page? Is it something you dread? Look forward to? Share a bit about your writing process.

I used to be a blank page panicker, but over the years I’ve realized you have to view writing a book like eating a pizza. Though you can visualize it in its entirety, you would never attempt to eat a whole pizza at once, just like you shouldn’t attempt to write a book all at once. You eat the pizza bite by bite, slice by slice until you’re done. By that notion, you write a book page by page, chapter by chapter, until it’s done. When I’m facing a blank page, I don’t let myself get overwhelmed by the thought “I have to write a book!” I settle with a simpler, easy-to-grasp goal of “I have to write a page.”

How important is community in keeping you inspired? What authors are a part of your virtual and/or hometown community? How do they keep you inspired? How do you inspire them?

Community is essential to me. People say writing is a solo craft, but I don’t think I know a single author who works entirely alone. You have to have a critique group (or partner) to keep you on track, remind you that your writing is good and help you navigate through the tough parts of your story. You have to have mentors, who can guide you on your career path, encourage you to reach that next level and believe in your work. You have to have writing friends who can sympathize on a bad day, motivate you to succeed by sharing their own successes, and celebrate with you when things go well.

I’m blessed to have so many wonderful authors in my hometown community AND the virtual community. These are friends I’ve met through SCBWI meetings, book signings, message boards, even Facebook and Twitter. They inspire me with their success stories and their tenacity. We shouldn’t be jealous of each other’s good fortune. We should use it as motivation to reach a similar level of awesome. I try and inspire others by sharing personal experiences, both good and bad, and helping them see the worth in their writing and the light at the end of the tunnel.

Theme can be seen as a dirty word but as writers I believe we all have something to say, something we want to share with the world. What is that something for you?

I love the idea of theme, and I didn’t realize I was even writing to one until I heard Marion Dane Bauer speak at the SCBWI LA conference last year. I’d been noticing what I called a trend in my books, where the main characters are usually girls who don’t conform to cliques and “girly” behavior. It concerned me at first, because I thought maybe all my stories were the same, but after hearing Marion Dane Bauer’s speech, I realized the stories were different, but there was a definite theme prevalent in my writing: Different does not equal bad.  

How important is voice in your work? How does “voice” come to you?

Voice, to me, keeps the reader turning the pages when there’s no action or happiness to be found. If the voice is captivating, a simple conversation is full of intrigue, and the reader has to know why so-and-so refuses to eat pudding. And a character in a dark situation needs us to keep reading so we’ll know it all turns out okay. The voice is what connects us to a character. 
Voice comes to me after I’ve worked out the plot of a story in my head. I’m usually going for funny, so the voice will lend itself to either intentional or unintentional humor. If I’m going for intentional, I’m usually working with a smart, witty character that can crack a joke or issue a retort without a second thought. If I’m going for unintentional, I’m usually working with a sweet, goofy, naïve person who is unaware their words or actions are rife with comedy.

I once heard Deb Caletti say when asked how her life has changed since becoming a published author that she feels she is living the life she is meant to live. How has your life changed since you became a published author? Has it? What lessons have you learned that you’d care to share since becoming published?

Ha! I feel like this is a customer testimony. “Since I’ve become a published author, I’ve dropped ten pounds and have whiter teeth!” But seriously, being published HAS changed my life, in good ways and bad. The good? I’ve become less of a recluse and have ventured out of my shell to make friends and meet new people, something pre-pub Jo would have avoided. For that matter, it’s made me more confident in myself and helped me identify personal strengths. The bad? It’s also helped me identify personal weaknesses! But at least I know what I need to work on.
Lessons to share? Don’t sell yourself short…but don’t oversell yourself either. When I first started many years ago, I boasted to anyone who asked about my book that I was going to be the next J.K. Rowling. Today, other than the fact that we both go by the name Jo, there are no similarities. I’m not even wearing designer underwear.

Another lesson? Watch what you say! The creation of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs mean gossip and negative comments spread much faster to people you might not want to hear. And don’t watch just what you say about other people; watch what you say about yourself. I once had a down day and wanted to post woe-is-me thoughts, but before I could, another writer told me how my good humor always made her feel better. Instead of going public with my pity party, I told a few close friends. The world didn’t need to watch me beat up on myself.

Quickly name 5 favorite stories—could be books or movies even. Do these stories have anything in common with one another? Do they have anything in common with your own work? What comparisons can you make in terms of what matters to you in your own work and what you like to read/experience?

1. The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith (Heinemann, 1956)
2. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Atheneum Press, 1967)
3. The Silver Spoon Mystery by Dorothy Sterling (Scholastic, 1958)
4. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (Not sure who original publisher was, 1934)
5. The Good Master by Kate Seredy (Viking, 1935)

All of these are comfort books for me. One thing they all have in common? They’re from before I was even born! They were originally gifts when I was a kid, and I didn’t read them for the longest time, either because I’d already seen the movie (The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Mary Poppins) or they sounded boring (Mixed-Up Files is set at a museum, The Silver Spoon Mystery was set in the 50s, The Good Master was set in Hungary). But when I finally read them, I fell in love with them. I want to write these kinds of books, the ones kids fall in love with and turn to when they’re sick or sad or just need a bit of cozy.

Inspired by the Actors Studio, what sound do you love? What sound do you hate?
I love the sound of laughter. I hate the sound of crying. I’m prone to duplicating these sounds (and their emotions) when I hear them.

If your protagonist and antagonist were competing on American Idol what songs would each sing? And who would have the better voice?
Let’s see. For the newest book, Odd Girl In, the protagonist is a loner tomboy named Alex, and she’d sing Raise Your Glass by Pink. The antagonist is an overachiever named Chloe, and she’d sing Headstrong by Trapt. I’d say Chloe would have the better voice because she’d do anything to win and would hire a vocal coach to help her nail the song.

In ode to Maebelle, the main character in my new book Truth with a Capital T, who keeps a book of little known facts about just about everything, please share a wacky piece of trivia that has stuck with you or please share a little known fact about YOU.
I have stitches in the middle of my forehead from the time I got overexcited about cookies and whacked my head on a banister when I jumped up and down for joy.

Ouch! Told you readers that Jo was exciteable!

Thanks to Jo Whittemore for being with us. For more on Jo, be sure to check out her website, her involvement with the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels (and if in Austin for TLA, please stop by the Texas Sweetheart & Scoundrel reception amid the hustle and bustle of the conference floor) and come see Jo, Varian Johnson, and myself when we join Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo for their Diversity in YA  stop here in Austin on May 9th, at BookPeople. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Inspiration: Creating Our Own Canons

This last Saturday I spent with members of the Brazos Valley SCBWI giving a talk on Creating Your Own Canon. We talked about turning to the books we love to study the craft of writing. We talked about the obstacles in our way--our weaknesses--in an effort to study and craft and shape our weaknesses into strengths. But no writer is perfect. No book is perfect either. We have flaws as people and it is okay for our writing to have flaws. Just like our strengths, our flaws should be uniquely our own.

During the workshop we read from and analyzed the opening passages of several books in my personal canon. Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary, What Jamie Saw by Carolyn Coman, The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak, and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Each Little Bird that Sings by Deborah Wiles.

Here are two of the passages we analyzed.

              I come from a family with a lot of dead people.
              Great-uncle Edisto keeled over with a stroke on a Saturday morning after breakfast last March. Six months later, Great-great aunt Florentine died—just like that in the vegetable garden. And, of course, there are all the dead people who rest temporarily downstairs, until they go off to Snapfinger Cemetery. I’m related to them, too. Uncle Edisto always said, “Everybody’s kin, Comfort."
              Downstairs at Snowberger’s, my daddy deals with death by misadventure, illness and natural causes galore. Sometimes I ask him how somebody died. He tells me, then he says, “It’s not how you die that makes the important impression, Comfort; it’s how you live. Now go live awhile, honey, and let me go back to work.” But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up. I’ll start with Great-uncle Edisto and last March, since that death involves me—I witnessed it.

Opening of Each Little Bird that Sings by Deborah Wiles.

--Of course, an introduction.
A beginning.
Where are my manners?
I could introduce myself properly, but it’s really not necessary. You will know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away.
At that moment you will be lying there (I rarely find people standing up). You will be caked in your own body. There might be a discovery; a scream will dribble down the air. The only sound I’ll hear after that will be my own breathing, and the sound of the smell, my footsteps.
The question is, what color will everything be at that moment when I come for you? What will the sky be saying?
Personally, I like a chocolate-colored sky. Dark, dark chocolate. People say it suits me. I do, however, try to enjoy every other color I see—the whole spectrum. A billion or so flavors, none of them quite the same, and a sky to slowly suck on. It takes the edge off stress. It helps me relax.

From The Book Thief by Markus Zusack

Ah, both about death and both so very different. The personal stamps of who Markus Zusak is and who Deborah Wiles is are on these passages. They also contain the very personal stamps of these individual books, as separate from Wiles other work and Zusak's other work.

Creating Our Own Canons and studying them--the masters that have made the greatest impact on our reading hearts can teach us many things. When I sat down to add new books to this talk, I scanned my shelves and the books above are the ones that called to me. I didn't realize it at the time but I choose two books (the ones cited above) that handle life and death, love and loss, making sense out of the suddenness of an unexpected loss and the other showcasing the humanity amid the brutality of the Holocaust. Books speak to us differently at different times and in my hands finding these books again, in opening my heart to the stories I have previously read and loved, I may have been trying to make sense of my own recent loss. Creating Our Own Canons, whether it be for study, or to build our personal collection of books that we can turn to to make sense of whatever life has thrown us is a gift.

Which leads me here, back to embracing our strengths and having compassion for our weaknesses. John Jakes said, "Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you believe, shine through ever sentence you write, every piece you finish." That's what all the books in my personal canon achieve and what I strive to do in my own writing. I take inspiration from that--from boldly being myself--flaws, foibles and all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Week In Review: Celebrating Life

Sunday March 20th, would have been my Aunt Susan's 61st birthday. I wasn't sure what the day would bring, in a week that took her from her apartment to ICU to the crematorium (her wishes) and ended with her birthday, the first day of spring. I spent the day working--me at the kitchen table on a talk I am giving on March 26th and V (the man in my life) in his cedar cubby of an office a few feet away working on his many projects.

At 5pm we left the house, (me with painted nails in honor of my aunt who taught me how to use nail polish and who often gave me a manicure) and drove to East Austin to celebrate V's African drumming teacher's 33rd birthday. We gathered at a picnic table with Abu's many students. Wine and water was shared. African dishes and pita and hummus. After about an hour of talking and laughing, the music began. Abu played the ballaphone--a wooden xylophone instrument and his students gathered with their djembe, drums. One of the guests had brought her roommates toddler and he stole the show dancing--arms thrusting as the music wove a spell over us all. It wasn't the way my aunt would have celebrated her birthday but I found myself looking skyward after taking in the love, graciousness, and beauty of the faces around me that it was the perfect way for me to say goodbye and to celebrate life and the signs of spring all around.

The week also brought many fruitful connections for the behind-the scenes work I am doing for and the Reaching Out Through YA Fiction Campaign for May. is on board, and author chats are being scheduled and lots of good stuff is ongoing.

The new issue of Hunger Mountain went live and the Passion for the Picture Book article is being mulled over by many a reader. I also did an interview over at WordCrushes where I talk about what is up and coming for the Hunger Mountain Children's and YA Page. Lots of new stuff happening--including rolling content with the next issue!

There is also much to be celebrated in cyberland, as well.

In Awesome Austin

Texas Sweetheart (or Scoundrel) depending on her mood or her wit, Jo Whittemore released a new title!
Look for an interview with Jo here, on the Inside the Writer's Studio series, next Wed.

Austin Author, Chris Barton, got a PW starred review for his latest--a YA non-fiction title.

Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities
Chris Barton, illus. by Paul Hoppe. Dial, $16.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3310-7
In 10 impeccably crafted profiles, Barton (The Day-Glo Brothers) shares the stories of individuals--many just teenagers--who adopted false identities for amusement, profit, or survival. From Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, who disguised herself as a man to fight in the Civil War, to 16-year-old Keron Thomas, who in 1993 impersonated a transit worker to fulfill his dream of piloting a New York City subway train, Barton reveals the motivations behind and the consequences of each deception. The use of second-person narration is very effective, allowing readers to assume the identities of each individual. Barton's prose captures the daring, ingenuity, and quick thinking required of each imposter ("You can bluster and grumble with the best of them.... You use up your share of tobacco too," he writes of Wakeman). In the most powerful stories, assuming a false identity was a life or death decision, as with Soloman Perel, a Jewish teenager who joined the Hitler Youth to escape being killed, and Ellen Craft, a slave who disguised herself as a white Southern gentleman to escape to the North. Hoppe contributes dynamic comic book–style panel art, not all seen by PW. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
Permalink: (978-0-8037-3310-7)

Outside Awesome Austin

One of the bravest Dear Teen Me letters yet has been posted. Be sure not to miss Jessica Burkhart's letter to her teen self.  Here is the opening:

Hey nineteen-year old me,
You feel like you’re drowning in secrets, huh?

Jessica at 19
I know. Every morning, life crushes your chest until you can’t breathe? Look, that might last a little while. But, and I know you won’t believe me now, it won’t be forever.

To read the letter in it's entirety, go here. You won't be sorry you did.

And VCFA faculty member and fabulous writer, Uma Krishnaswami (who is coming to Austin for the YA A to Z Conference) just rec'd a starred Kirkus review on her new novel, The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.

Kirkus Star Editor Review (reviewed on April 1, 2011)
Hooray for Bollywood.
Eleven-year-old Dini is not pleased at all at the prospect of leaving Takoma Park, Md., and her best friend Maddie to live in a small town in southern India for two years. But though she knows it's ridiculous, bakvaas, as Indians say, she wonders if she might get to meet her idol, Dolly Singh, Bollywood film star. Dini and Maddie are devoted Dolly fans. And, in a series of events as wonderfully convoluted and satisfyingly resolved as any movie plot could be, she does. The fast-paced tale introduces and manages to connect an Indian-American family, a postal worker from Mumbai, a movie producer and his erratic star, a car mechanic, a tea plantation owner, a local baker and assorted monkeys—all coming together for a grand finale party and dance. Set in imagined Swapnagiri (which means Dream Mountain), this high-energy concoction is thoroughly believable and entertaining. The story is told in a third-person present-tense voice that rings true to its protagonist, who sees her life as a movie script. Though Dini and Maddie are halfway around the world from each other, they communicate through cell phones and computer chat, keeping up their friendship while making new ones.

Full of references to Bollywood movie traditions and local customs, this is a delightful romp with a fresh setting and a distinctive and appealing main character. (Fiction. 9-13)

And SLJ this week featured a special project that took place in Round Rock and featured picture book author, Phil Binder, in an article titled, Librarians Help Students, Author Create Book Trailers.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Behind the Editor's Desk

Over on, a great blog by Erin Fanning following the teen/tween book market is an interview with me today, in my Hunger Mountain Children's and YA Editor capacity. I had a wonderful phone call with Managing Editor Miciah Bay Gault yesterday and soon Hunger Mountain content is going to be be published online in an ongoing "rolling" fashion so every few weeks or so there will be fresh/new content to keep our readers (over 6k unique hits per month) inspired. And, we are looking for more fabulous fiction, so hop on over to and see what it is we are looking for.

Sneak Peak into the interview:

Who are some of your favorite authors and why? Favorite short stories? Is there a story (or two) that was completely unforgettable… changed your life or outlook in some way?

I recently read a short story cycle manuscript, titled, The Pullout, for a friend and though my opinion was supposed to come as Bethany, friend and fellow critiquer, what I originally thought as I was reading is I have, have, have, to have one of these stories to showcase in the spring issue of Hunger Mountain. The one I choose, that I thought would resonate most from the collection VCFA grad Lindsey Lane is stringing together is a story called The Proposal. Lindsey, who has been known as a picture book writer, did something brave and beautiful in her short story cycle. She went deep and the work she laid bare had a profound affect on me.

** This short story will be coming in the next issue whose theme is: The Varying Shades of Shadows.

Those interested in submitting may see the submission guidelines here:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Inside the Writer's Studio with Bettina Restrepo

Today at Inside the Writer's Studio we have with us talented Texas author Bettina Restrepo.
Bettina is here to share about her new book--her first novel, Illegal which has garnered the following rave from Kirkus. "With searing realism, debut author Restrepo describes Nora's anger, desperation and loss of faith... This memorable coming-of-age story will awaken readers to the overlooked struggles of immigrants."

A bit more about Illegal, from the publisher, Katherine Tegen Books:

A promise.
A promise that we would be together on my fifteenth birthday . . .
Instead, Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora stays behind. She fights to make sense of her loss while living in poverty—waiting for her father's return and a better day. When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a frightening experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place. Now, Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her precious quinceaÑera.

Bettina Restrepo's gripping, deeply hopeful debut novel captures the challenges of one girl's unique yet universal immigrant experience.

Now, on to the interview!

How important is community in keeping you inspired? What authors are a part of your virtual and/or hometown community? 

I adore writers and artists of any nature because their hearts are more open to the world around them.  I am part of the class of 2k11. While we are a marketing co-op, these are the people I turn to with my book craziness as they are sitting in the same soup with me.  Because, I had a picture book come out two years ago, Moose and Magpie (Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2009), I had a few more experiences with the publication process.  It’s been nice to pass along my knowledge to other friends who are experiencing angst.  We laugh and cry together – all online.  I plan to physically meet most of them in May 2010 as we get together at Book Expo America in NYC. 

I also have a critique group here in Dallas.  Julie Richie, Sally Lee, and Stephanie Parsley.  Each one of us has different experiences that we write from, whether it is edgy YA or poetic, rhyming picture books.  They are live people that I intimately share my life with in a noisy Einstein’s eating yummy bagels and sipping endless cups of steaming coffee. 
When I lived in Houston, I was part of a very special critique group.  Although Joyce Harlow died this fall, she mentored me through the writing process with tea and cookies every Sunday for five years.  Jenny Moss and Mary Ann Hellenhausen  added so much to my world, as friends, and as valuable educators in my writing world.  

Is there a favorite quote you turn to when the rejection blues get to you?

Cynthia Leitich Smith once told me, “It is better to publish well than fast.”  I truly believe if the work was rejected, it wasn’t supposed to be at that publication or wasn’t in the form it needed to be. 

What do you feel is your strength as a craftsperson? How do you turn your weaknesses into strengths?  

My strength has been voice.  I write when I hear the character speaking to me – which is why I work in 1st person. I’m on the right track when the voices of the character WILL NOT leave me alone – even if I beg them to.  

My weakness in writing is grammaticism and distractibility.  Three languages swirled in my house growing up.  Typically, I grabbed any word that I could think of.  I fought with my language art teachers because I felt grammar (diagramming, verb changes, etc) was distracting me from the good stuff – the reading. 

I can’t tell you the rule of why something works; I just hear it and know.  Luckily, I have critique group to help and I revise mercilessly examining every word and how it relates to every sentence. 
Also, I work in short spurts of 1-2 hours.  I have a young son with apraxia who requires a lot of time and attention.  Like any mother, I often feel like I have forty things going at once.  But, this doesn’t allow me to neglect my work.  I just have to pull myself back to whatever I was doing.  Managing several things at once is helpful, because publication mode is quite different than creation mode.  Both require work with completely different parts of yourself and your brain.  

How does “place” come through in your writing? How important is place in this current novel/picture book? Is it tied to a place you once lived or are familiar with or is it a new world entirely?

 In Illegal, the place is real – Houston, Texas.  I worked in the community I wrote about, but it’s not to say I didn’t take liberties with changing a few names of street, apartments or parks.  Houston served as a model from which the character grew and lived, but it could truly be anywhere in the world.

Speak a bit about the importance of dialog? 

I’m a dialogue girl, while one of my critique partners is an exposition girl.  I like to have my characters reacting to the world around them through voice and interaction around them.  But, some writers do it all in the character’s head – me, I just write down what they tell me in their own personal dialogue.  Perhaps it’s the difference between 1st and 3rd person, but each technique has a different result.  Me, I like dialogue.  

I once heard Deb Caletti say when asked how her life has changed since becoming a published author that she feels she is living the life she is meant to live. How has your life changed since you became a published author? Has it? What lessons have you learned that you’d care to share since becoming published?

Personally, I know that your life will NOT change whether you are published or not – it’s how you feel about it.
You will not become thinner, more beautiful, or more significant to the world than you already are.
You will merely have a book on the shelf that you can point to and say “I created that.”
98% of those with one published book won’t even make enough money to earn out their advance.  

But, you can create a work of art that is important to you or your family… maybe even an audience of one.  I think too many people (me, once included) feel like the only way to validate themselves was through publication.  Some stories just aren’t meant for a wide audience – thus, not profitable for a traditional publishing house.  Perhaps it’s only a story to share with friends and family, or a beloved friend. 
We should rejoice in the art of a story well told.  

Writers love books; we love reading. What book do you turn to over and over again and why do you love it?  Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont (Riverhead).   No matter where I am in my life, I feel like she can speak and guide me – whether in publishing or in life.  I like the book’s spiritual side.

Which character of yours do you hope your readers most relate to? And why?

I hope they relate to Mr. Mann.  He is a homeless and mentally ill man in ILLEGAL.  He is a forgotten person.  Invisible.  He is all of us and none of us.  At the core, we have to remember that we are all human deserving dignity.

Be brave. Share a paragraph from a WIP. 

This is a story I personally need to tell – and it scares me to death.  The character wants my attention, but I can’t hear her voice clearly, so I am having trouble with the story.  By sharing it with your readers, I hope to push myself to finish the story. 

Currently Untitled.
It begins with a sucking noise.  Like a vacuum gagging and sputtering on a sock.
You can hear the machine as they start the other girl’s abortions.
“You’ll just feel a small pinch,” the doctor says, his voice sounding far away. The speculum is cold.  I can feel a push on my insides.
The nurse pats my arm as the doctor inserts the aspirator. I don’t feel pain, just a weird tapping pressure.
I want to tense up, but my body is floating from the pill they gave.  I drank it down in a smooth gulp with water from a paper Dixie cup.
“Okay?” he asks, patting me on the shoulder, but I close my eyes as a response.  I just want it done.

In ode to Maebelle, the main character in my new book Truth with a Capital T, who keeps a book of little known facts about just about everything, please share a wacky piece of trivia that has stuck with you or please share a little known fact about YOU.

I went to high school in Wichita Falls, Texas.  When I say this, people think, I know that city, but I don’t remember it.
It’s 2.5 hours northwest of Dallas on the way to Amarillo.  Although it’s a city of 100,000 - people only stop there to pee.  I know, affectionately, call the place “Urination, Texas.” 

Thanks Bettina for being here. Thanks for being brave enough to show some of your wonderful WIP and for being the brave writer behind Illegal.