CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS
Here are my current Giveaway Contests
THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE through April 22nd
Natalie Lakosil Query Critique and THE STAR THIEF through April 22nd
Happy Easter Giveaway Hop through April 30th
Tracy Marchini Query Critique through April 29th
THE WINGSNATCHERS through May 4th
Lauren Spieller Query Critique through May 13th
Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways
Loren Oberweger on 5/10/2017
Alyssa Jennette on 5/24/2017
Bibi Lewis on 6/12/2017
Kelly Van Sant on 6/21/2017
LIESL SHURTLIFF INTERVIEW AND RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN
First, I have a few winners to announce.
The winner of SERENDIPITY AND ME is Medeia Sharif!
The winner of WRITING CHILDREN'S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES is Michael DiGesu!
And the winner of the Shower of Books Giveaway Hop is Courtney Renee who picked TAKEN!
Congrats to the winners! Please e-mail me your addresses by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.
Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Liesl Shurtliff here to share about RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN that released on April 9, 2013. I knew I wanted to interview Liesl when I saw the title of her book. I love fairy tale retellings and this was such a different character to write a story about. Liesl did a fantastic job giving a fresh twist on Rumpelstiltskin’s life and he’s so different from Mr. Gold in Once Upon a Time, one of my favorite TV shows. It was a fast paced story and Rump was such a sympathetic character who I really loved.
Here’s a description from Goodreads:
In a magical kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.
To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.
Hi Liesl. Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
Hi Natalie. I grew up in Salt Lake City, but have lived in Chicago for about 9 years, and that’s about how long I’ve been seriously writing. I have a degree in Music Dance Theatre and had always wanted to perform, but after I had kids that just wasn’t as feasible anymore, so I turned to writing as a quieter creative outlet, thinking it would simply hold me over until my kids got a little older. But while I waited for them to grow, I fell head over heels in love with writing. I’m much happier as a writer then I ever was as a singer or dancer.
2. Awesome that you’re talented as a singer and dancer too. I’ve read that you came up with the idea for your book and wrote it before Once Upon a Time became a TV show. And that you like Mr. Gold and that show like me. How did you decide to do a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin and on your twist on the story?
The idea for one of my concepts in the story came to me first. I thought it would be interesting to create a world where a name determined your destiny. Immediately my mind gravitated toward the Rumpelstiltskin tale, as well as the many mysteries and holes surrounding Rumpelstiltskin’s character and name. Those were the seeds that got me started writing Rump.
3. Your take on him is so different than I’d expect. It’s one of the things I really liked about your story. Rump is such a fantastic, sympathetic character. He’s so nice and caring of others. That’s what gets him into trouble. Share some of how you developed him as a character and any challenges you faced.
Shortening Rumpelstiltskin’s name to Rump was the first thing that got me going with this main
One thing that was difficult was making sure Rump didn’t come off as too tragic. He has to go through a lot of heavy stuff, poor little guy, so sometimes I had to work to balance that heaviness with levity, keep the lightness even in the face of difficulty. It would have been easy to let him wallow.
4. You balanced that well. You did a really good job tying your theme of a person’s name into your story, not only in relation to Rump’s search for his name, but in your world building too. It permeates your whole world that really has no names beyond places like the Mountain. How did that happen and what are your tips on weaving in theme into our story?
As I said above, the name theme was actually one of my very first ideas, so it permeated the story and world from the very start, but I wasn’t thinking of it as “theme” so much as simply world-building. I had to refine it and bring it out more as I revised.
As for tips on weaving in theme, I would say do not worry about theme so much in a first draft. Theme is something that should show up organically based on the character’s motives and the events that occur throughout the story, as well as from a writer’s subconscious. After a first draft, you’ll probably notice little sprouts of themes here and there. When you do notice, definitely bring it out as much as possible, but don’t go into a story with the idea that you’re going to expound upon a theme and plant it like a giant tree right from the beginning. It won’t be as powerful as when you simply allow it to sprout and grow of its own accord. Trust that every good story has theme and let it come out on its own.
5. That’s great advice. Setting is the hardest for me to develop and if I let some of it go in my first draft, I might move the story along faster. Thanks for the tip. Are you a plotter or a punster? What are your tips on creating a good plot like you did here with nuggets of information that kept Rump searching for his name?
I’m a little bit of both. I do a lot of prewriting on character and world building and a little bit of plot, but I don’t do a detailed outline. It’s more of a general synopsis that tells me what the character wants and why, how they intend to get it, what stands in their way, and how they succeed (or fail.) But I run into all kinds of surprises while I’m drafting and I don’t always stick with the plan. I figure if I’m surprised while I’m writing, then my reader will be surprised while reading.
6. Sounds like you’ve got a good balance between the two. Your agent is Michelle Adelman. Share how she became your agent and your road to publication.
I met Michelle through a good old-fashioned query. Hey, the really do work! I signed with her about a month after I started querying and then we worked together on my manuscript for another month, polishing and tightening the book for submission. We had an offer from Knopf about a month after submission. Both my agent and editor have been absolutely wonderful to work with. I really could not ask for better. They’re smart, talented, and intuitive, and I feel so lucky they picked me up!
7. Glad to hear the querying works, especially since sometime this year I plan to do it. You’re part of The Lucky 13’s. How has that group helped you in your year leading up to your book release? How do you recommend that middle grade authors who join such groups maximize the effectiveness of being in such a group when there are so many more YA debut authors in these groups?
As a middle-grade author, it can feel like you’re a little sibling trying to hang out with the big kids. However, there are far fewer MG Luckies, I think something like 30 MGs vs. over 100 YAs. We’ve actually created our own little MG Luckies group and that’s been a great way to maximize the effectiveness for me. MG marketing really is a different ballgame than YA, so we share our own ideas with each other and do some cross-promotions that are more effective for the MG crowd.
8. That’s a great idea to link up with the other MG authors in your group. What’s been your favorite social media avenue to help you with your writer’s platform and why? What tips can you share on how the rest of us should use this type of social media?
Twitter. I think the bulk of the publishing industry as well as the writing and reading crowd use Twitter quite often and it’s a great way to connect to other authors, readers, teachers and librarians.
I’m probably the last person to ask about social media platform advice. I’m not very good at it! But admittedly, I’m not very good at it because I’ve only got so much time to work and I have to spend most of it writing. Social media can be a huge distraction and time-sucker, so I suppose my advice there is to use it sparingly and realize that you can only promote yourself that way so much. Don’t ignore other avenues, particularly the in-person promotional opportunities. I find those to be more effective in any case.
9. Yeah, I confess that social networking does suck too much of my time. What advice do you have to us aspiring authors?
Keep writing and keep learning, even after publication. Invest in you work, mostly with time and effort, but also with money for classes and conferences if you can. If you want to be a successful writer then you need to treat it like a job, even if you already have one. (Don’t we all?)
10. Yes, I do have a full-time job. But it’s true that you have to consider writing a job too. What are you working on now?
Another fairytale! I’m not quite ready to share which one, but it’s a companion to Rump and I’m very excited about it. More soon!
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Liesl. You can find Liesl at www.lieslshurtliff.com
Liesl generously offered a signed copy of RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on May 18th. I’ll announce the winner on May 20th.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.
Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the links to all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday bloggers here .
Here's what's coming up:
On Wednesday I’m excited to interview one of our followers Lisa Gail Green about her debut novel, DJINN: THE BINDING STONE, a YA paranormal story about a genie. I’m almost done with it and it’s fantastic. I fell in love with Leela, the trapped genie, and it's a real page turner. There will be a giveaway too.
Next Monday, I’m thrilled to have Kelley Armstrong here to discuss and give away an ARC of Loki’s Way that she co-wrote with Melissa Marr. It’s a fantastic upper middle grade fantasy story that fans of Percy Jackson will like. I really loved the mythology based on Norse gods and the characters. I can’t wait to read book 2 in the series. I met Kelley at a book signing in Ann Arbor a few years ago and she is the nicest person to her fans. I’m beyond thrilled to have her here.
Next Wednesday I’m going to do a post on how I set up author interviews and promote books the way I do. I had a request from a follower to share about this. And I’ll be doing a review and giveaway of REQUIEM by Lauren Oliver and another book by her.
The following Monday, I’m interviewing debut author Natalie Whipple and giving away a copy of TRANSPARENT, a YA futurist story.It’s about Fiona, invisible to the world and herself, in a futurist world, desperately trying to carve out a normal life and escape her dad. I really enjoyed reading about her story and that of her friends who have unique powers too.
Wednesday that week, I’m interviewing debut author Dorine White about her book, THE EMERALD RING. I really enjoyed learning about the powers of the emerald ring with Sara, a smart middle grader, and her friends. And I found the mythology based on Cleopatra to be unique.
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.
Hope to see you on Wednesday!
Posted by Natalie Aguirre on Monday, May 06, 2013