SIX MINUTES WITH JEANNIE CHAMBERS:
Joining LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author today is Jeannie Chambers, author of Tunnel of Time. Her book has received the LitPick Top Choice Book Review Award. One students says it has an “adventurous spirit in it.” Another student says, “I loved the writing style, the plot line, and the characters.”
***How did you get started writing?
I started writing in Junior High School (7th - 9th grade), mostly poetry at first, and then I started journaling when I was about seventeen. In my early twenties, after my children were born, is when I decided I wanted to write for children. I completed a course from The Institute of Children's Literature and somehow had this preconceived notion that when I completed the course I'd be ready to sit down and write a best seller. Trouble was, I didn't know what I wanted to write. Being a bit of a procrastinator, I put writing on the back burner, but I kept writing in my journals. Fast forward many (many, many) years later, I discovered NaNoWriMo and they were my catalyst. I completed my first NaNoWriMo novel in 2010. Even though I had the required 50K words to cross the finish line, that book never reached 'The End'. Tunnel of Time is a 2013 NanNoWriMo book.
***Who influenced you?
I'd have to say my father was my biggest influence in my writing, simply because he had a vivid imagination and taught me to be a casual observer. I catch myself laughing on the inside at some of the most mundane things because I can see them in a different light. For instance, a Realtor was going over an inspection report for a house I was buying and told me there was evidence of powder post beetles. I thought she'd said powder puff beetles, so I laughed out loud. In my mind, I'm seeing this fat little bug, sitting on a vanity seat, with its stick figure legs crossed showing her glamorous high heels, her hair in a pink turban, while she's looking in a large lit mirror, applying face powder with a tiny pink powder puff. Since then, I've tried to tame my inner thoughts at least until I can write them down somewhere. My father read to me when I was little, and I still remember the twinkle in his eyes as he told stories. I found out after he passed away that he wanted to write a novel. My older brother is also a writer and has most of my father's writings. I'm hoping to see them in print someday so the world can know him, well, both of them.
***Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
No, not really. The first book that I remember saying was a favorite was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, then came The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, but then I tend to fall in love with at least some part of any book I read. My parents always told me, "You can go anywhere in the world you want just by reading a book." I can be happy in the past, present, or future when I'm reading. In Tunnel of Time the characters accidentally do a bit of time traveling, and I think that would be so much fun, but for now I'll time travel via a book.
***What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Here are my top FIVE writing tips:
1) Just write! Try to write something every day; it may not have anything to do with what you think you want to write, just keep it up.
2) Write as soon as you get up in the morning, and write longhand, not on any device. I learned this from a book by Julia Cameron (The Right to Write). She says to write three pages longhand in order to get stream of consciousness thoughts on paper. You'll be surprised what you end up with.
3) Surround yourself with other writers, editors, publishers, etc. either physically or virtually. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn are great places to create a page for yourself as a WRITER. Remember, you ARE a writer- you don't have to be published to be a writer.
4) Contact your school, local newspaper or local magazines, and ask if you can submit an article or two. You probably won't get paid anything, but the experience is invaluable.
5) Do your homework and read all you can. Read what others have written about writing, and read for fun! Read outside your normal genre, but especially read the genre you're writing about.
***Where is your favorite place to write?
I do my best writing sitting at my desk in my home office. I read about others writing in a coffee shop, but I'm so easily distracted that I'm not sure I could pull it off. I also like to write while traveling. I'm usually a morning person, so if I'm up before anyone else, I'm either reading or writing.
***What else would you like to tell us?
Yes, I'd like to give my agent, Monica Collier with Red Press Co. a huge shout-out. She made the acquisition and publishing part of my writing journey a wonderful experience. I'd probably still be drifting along if it hadn't been for her knowledgeable suggestions and encouragement.
I've got a lot of stories in my noggin, and I can't wait to share them with you. One of my goals in writing books for children, middle graders, and teens is to help reluctant readers read more and provide regular readers with fun reads to not only pass their time, but maybe give them something to remember.
Jeannie, thank you for joining us and sharing a little bit more of your writing journey! We love your tips for those who aspire to be an author.