Dian Curtis Regan is the author of more than 50 books for young readers. New in 2011 is The Snow Blew Inn, a picture book from Holiday House, and Rocky Cave Kids, a chapter book from Marshall Cavendish. Other titles include the updated Princess Nevermore and its sequel, Cam’s Quest, Barnyard Slam, Monster of the Month Club, The World According to Kaley, and the Ghost Twins Series. For more info, visit her website.
Let the conversation begin!
What was your favorite book to write?
My favorite book to write is always the one I’m working on. In this case, a middle grade fantasy. (I never talk about the WIP or mention its title. See tip #3 below.)
Who is your favorite author?
I was hugely inspired by Lloyd Alexander’s books, especially the Chronicles of Prydain, (from which The High King won the Newbery Award in 1969).
I’m glad I got to meet him and tell him how much his books meant to me—even though I could not get through my thank you without tears.
What advice would you give young writers?
Take it seriously. A friend, who’s been working on a novel for ten years, is racking up starred reviews as the publication date nears. There is a direct correlation to “working on a novel for ten years” and “racking up starred reviews.”
You can’t really ‘write fast.’ But you can ‘draft fast,’ and that’s a terrific skill to have. Yet after that is when the real work begins. That’s when your true story emerges with all of its connections, innuendos, creative language, and twists no one saw coming.
Think of yourself as an entertainer. Give us good story, not a morality lesson or a thinly disguised author agenda. Take us on an adventure with intriguing characters. Make us feel. Or, as one writer put it: “Don’t say that your character laughed or cried. Make your reader laugh or cry.”
Stay focused. One of the most important pieces of advice has nothing to do with writing, yet it has everything to do with it: time management.
Don’t dilute your valuable writing time by “spending it all” on blogging, Facebook, or email. These are wonderful tools, but they must take a back seat to time alone spent on your work in progress.
Present yourself well. Put up a user-friendly webpage. Cut the bells and whistles. People just want to see who you are and find out about your books with as few clicks as possible.
Keep the page updated, as well as free from distractions such as your political or religious views, or family information.
Re-envision. All the critique groups in the world won’t help if you balk at revising. Pretend you are an editor, reading your submission for the first time. Be brutally honest with yourself. And listen to writer friends whose work you admire.