photo farm-home_zpsa3f89177.jpg  photo farm-about_zps5ca590aa.jpg  photo farm-books_zps4b857550.jpg  photo farm-activities_zpsba432778.jpg  photo farm-writing_zpsb4bb8fe2.jpg  photo farm-contact_zps6eab4e56.jpg

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lori Degman





Today, I am excited to welcome Lori Degman to the blog.
Lori has been writing for a long time, but it was only after her son left for college that she became interested in becoming a published author. And that's when serendipity stepped in. Lori won the Spoonfuls of Stories contest which resulted in a publishing deal for 1 Zany Zoo with
Simon and Schuster.
  Lori recently agreed to answer a few questions for my blog readers.
Be sure to check out her blog The Habitual Rhymer where she writes in rhyme
most of the time....but not always.

Lori has graciously offered to send a reader a FREE copy of her book
1 Zany Zoo!  Just leave a comment below by Sunday May 20, 10pm and I will
draw a winner! She, being the delightful person she is, also offered a FREE RHYMING BOOK CRITIQUE!  Same deal, comment and I'll do a second drawing.  Thank you so kindly Lori for such treats for the blog readers!   Now, on to the interview:


Lori, 1 Zany Zoo was published by Simon and Schuster in July 2010 in a rather roundabout way...tell me about that.
First, I want to thank Sharon for asking me to do this interview! I love an excuse to talk about myself - joking! Or am I?
Seriously, here's the story of my back-door entry into publication. In June, 2008, I learned about the Cheerios New Author Contest and decided to go for it. My motto is - if you don't enter, you can't win. Take it from someone who has won countless prizes, including three vacations! 
Winners were supposed to be notified in October and by mid-November, I had accepted the fact that I didn't win and decided to move on with my story. I submitted it for critique at our annual SCBWI conference, to find out what was wrong with it - why it hadn't won the contest. When I read the critique, I almost cried! The editor wrote one nice comment, then went on to tear it apart! I was so discouraged, I almost left the conference. I thought I would never become a published author! I pulled myself together and stayed for the conference - and I'm glad I did because I learned a lot!
Ten days after I received the horrible critique, I got a Fed-ex package with an affidavit saying my story won the Cheerios contest! The same exact story the editor hadn't liked! It just goes to show how subjective this whole business is! 
A couple of hours later, I got a phone call from the marketing people at General Mills and a couple of days later, I got an email from Simon & Schuster about publishing my book! It was like a dream, the way it all happened! I still find it hard to believe sometimes!


 I think we all hope to win contests at one time or another....How did you find out about the Cheerios contest?
I used to practically live on Verla Kay's Blue Board - it's a message board on her website and it has more than 1800 members! There's a section where you can announce contests and that's where I read about it.

1 Zany Zoo is a rhyming book. I know we've all heard rhyming books are often a hard sell to publishers. Why do you think children love them so anyway?
To me, a well-metered rhyming book is like a song - it's fun to read/listen to and the rhythm pulls you in. Also, once children begin learning phonics, they can predict the rhyming words and that's fun for them. Unfortunately, a lot of people submit rhyming stories that either have meter problems or are not stories that are well-suited to rhyme, so editors are sometimes reluctant to read them.


 I know in your other life you are a teacher of deaf students. Do you "read" picture books to your students, and if so, did they like your book?
I am an "itinerant" teacher, which means I travel to different schools and work one-on-one with students. The majority of my students are hard of hearing and I've found that rhymes are very helpful for them when learning to read. I read a lot of rhyming picture books to my students but I never read my unpublished stories. After 1 Zany Zoo was published, I gave each of my students a copy and had them read it to me. It's so much fun hearing your book read aloud - especially by your students! They all said they liked it but they would never be so rude as to tell me otherwise.

Who has been your biggest supporter in your journey as a writer?
My twin sister, Julie, has been my biggest supporter by far! She always encourages me to do my best work and won't let me quit until I do! She has not only listened to all of my stories - multiple times - but she has given me incredible and brutally honest feedback! She's an excellent writer and she's not afraid of hurting my feelings, so I really trust her opinion! My sons, Sean and Brian, my mother and my sister, Mindy, have also been supportive and encouraging. They'll listen to my stories and give me general feedback, but they don't give me the nitty-gritty feedback like Julie does. 


 I read a little known fact about you on your site...you read tarot cards! Do you see more books in your future?
I can't predict the future - sometimes I wish I could and sometimes I'm happy I can't. I think of the Tarot cards as a tool to help work through issues and concerns. I tell people to use them as a guide - if it's a positive reading and it's something you want to happen, then do what you need to do to make it happen. If it's a negative reading, then do what you can to stop it from happening. The specific cards in a reading will give you an idea of how you can help make your future the way you'd like it to be. Does that make sense? If we ever meet in person, I'll do a reading for you and you'll see what I mean!


 Any advice for the rest of us published author wannabes?
I have six pieces of advice:
1) Join SCBWI - the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators!! This organization is a great way to meet other authors, learn the ins and outs of children's book writing and publishing, and find out about the awesome conferences, workshops and meetings they host. I can't say enough good things about SCBWI!
2) Learn as much as you can about writing, how to get published and what to do after you're published. You can do this by reading craft books, blogs and websites and by attending workshops, conferences and classes. But don't stop there - apply what you've learned! I just attended a storytelling workshop and the presenter said, "When someone gives you a grocery list, you don't just read it - you use it to help you shop". It's the same with writing - don't sit on all that knowledge - use it!
Find other authors with whom you can share your work - be it a formal critique group of just a few fellow writer-friends. Not only will you learn a lot by reading critiques of your work and other's but you'll learn just as much by critiquing other authors' work.
4) This one's a twofer - READ, READ, READ & WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!
5) Don't send things out before they're ready! When you think a story is finished, no matter how eager you are to send it out - DON'T! Put it away for a week - at least a few days if you can't wait a whole week. Then pull it out and read it with fresh eyes - you'll see things you'd swear weren't there before :-)
6) Last, but not least - be a duck and let rejection roll off your back. Don't ignore constructive criticism or you'll never improve, but don't take rejections to heart. Remember that editor didn't like my story but the judges of the contest did. If she had been one of the judges, I probably wouldn't have won the contest! Have faith in yourself and respect yourself enough to always do your best work!

Lori, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to answer all the questions so completely.  Your willingness to help other writers does you credit and we all wish you the best in your future...whatever your "cards" tell you!

28 comments:

  1. Thank you ladies for this fun interview. I follow Lori's blog so was very happy to read more about her and her author's journey. How encouraging to read what one editor rejected ended up with S & S!!

    I like the advice to even when you think your MS is submissions worthy to still put it away again for a wee while!


    As a rhymer-in-learning I would sure love to win a critique from Lori!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lori has a great blog...thanks for reading!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Joanna! I can't tell you how many mss I've sent out before they were ready - such wasted opportunities!

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  2. Cool! This post is inspiring and it's nice to be reminded that opinions are subjective and if one editor doesn't like a story keep on going. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A terrific interview, thank you for sharing so much! I am new to the world of rhyme, and would love to win a critique! It is just so insightful reading Lori's journey and I really like the tips at the end. great advice for everyone! thank you both.
    Nicky Johnston

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you came by Nicky...come anytime!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the comment, Nicky! If you enjoy writing in rhyme, keep at it!

      Delete
  4. Always fun to hear from Lori, and now I hope one day we will meet and I can persuade her to bring along tarot cards!

    If I win I'm handing over the critique to Joanna, who claims to be a "rhymer-in-learning" but her SNOW GAMES uTales book is a rhyming masterpiece!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, the tarot cards would be fab!

      Delete
    2. How nice of you to give away the critique, if you win it! I've only read the first few pages of Joanna's book, SNOW GAMES, but it looks adorable!

      Delete
  5. Way to inspire us Lori! I 'tap' the cards now and again myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my gosh we need to do a tarot card reading with all y'all who read!

      Delete
    2. If you're ever in the Chicago area, let me know and we'll do a reading!

      Delete
  6. I tried replying to each comment separately and it kept freezing up on me! If you're reading this, then I must have solved the problem. If you're not reading this . . .

    Thanks so much for all the nice remarks! It is truly a subjective business so you don't want to give up , if you truly believe in your mss but, on the other hand, if ten people (editors) tell you you're a horse - buy a saddle! The hard part is knowing when to stick with your story and when to go saddle shopping :-) I wish you all the best of luck in your writing pursuits!!

    Lori

    PS - Tarot cards are the best - I promise a reading to anyone I meet in person!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great interview, ladies! Lori, it was so fun to learn more about you. I love the contest story! So true- we writers live in a world of subjectivity - different strokes for different folks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susanna! You really need a thick skin in this business, that's for sure!

      Delete
  8. Lori still has the winning smile. A gift of writing is a gift worth sharing.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mark - you're always so nice! Do you write?

      Delete
  9. Enjoyed the interview and thanks for the tips.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Deborah - I hope the tips help!

      Delete
  10. What a fun interview. I got to know Lori better as we did an A to Z Poetry Challenge for National Poetry Month in April. Lori...reading your A to Z poems was truly delightful and I was soooo excited to be in the challenge with you because I knew of 1 Zany Zoo. In fact, it has been on my library list, but my library hasn't gotten it yet. I would love to win it. I would, also, love to win a critique from you, Lori...your meter and rhythm are just a joy to read!
    Thanks to both of you Sharon and Lori for the interview!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Penny - coming from you that's high praise!!

      Delete
  11. Sharon, I commented earlier, but I'm not seeing my comment several hours later. I hope it's there somewhere...and if so, just delete this one.
    I loved the interview. What a great story about the road to publication. Lori is so talented. I read her A to Z Poetry Challenge poems...wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  12. sorry to penny and the others who have had trouble posting comments...i have no clue why...i've had the same problem trying to reply to everyone's kind words! must be a blogger issue...but i so much appreciate hearing from everyone and i know lori does also...i can't wait to draw!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem seems to have resolved - at least for now.

      Delete

...so happy to hear from you.........