Dec. 4, 2015
We are thrilled to present children's author Cindy Williams Schrauben in the author spotlight this week. I (Elaine) had the pleasure of meeting Cindy at the New York SCBWI conference in 2013, and I was blown away by both her talent and her humor.
I suspect that my knee-jerk response is the same as most Kidlit411 members - I simply LOVE books. I love the wonder in the eyes of children as they read and are read to. I crave the comfort of a child on my lap as we read together. And, as a former teacher, I am dedicated to encouraging this same passion in others.
Books have always had a special place in our home. I adored reading to my girls (although I will admit to hiding a book or two after the millionth reading.) Most of all, I cherish the memories books have provided and strive to offer the same for other families.
Can you tell us a little about your submission process?
Oh boy, this is a loaded question, for sure. Submission is the part of the gig that I don't enjoy - at all! Writing queries is brutal. Then comes the waiting, and waiting, and waiting. UGH! That being said, I'm doing my best to embrace the process. After all, there will be no publication without it, right?
When I first began this journey I thought, "I've read thousands of picture books. I know what kids like. This will be a breeze." Ha! Not so much.
Knowing when a MS is ready is the hardest part for me. Early on, I subbed way too quickly - my writing just wasn't there. I now understand that it's all about patience, persistence, and teamwork. It is impossible to read your own work objectively enough to determine readiness, it just is. You have to lean on others. The Kidlit writing community is a fabulous resource - I am always amazed at the generosity of fellow writers. Taking advantage of it is the best thing you'll ever do. Critique partners are essential (I learn a ton from doing critiques, too) and I invest in paid critiques when I feel like a story is ready (it usually isn't).
So, I am slowing the process down a bit - taking time to learn and practice. I am committed to spending a fair amount of time studying. I read material on the craft and business of writing for kids every day (blogs, articles, agent interviews, etc.), take classes, attend conferences, and read, read, read.
What projects are you working on now?
Most of my projects are fun, quirky picture books (in rhyme and prose). I have several ready for submission and many more in the works. I am, also, in the process of submitting a YA contemporary novel with a paranormal twist entitled SILENT VOICES; think Paper Towns with a hint of clairaudience (hearing others thoughts) thrown in. The voices that the MC hears are weaved graphically throughout this novel, symbolizing her visceral reactions.
How do you choose projects - or do they choose you? Do you work on one at a time or several simultaneously)
I was always skeptical when authors said "the book just wrote itself" or "the idea just popped into my head", but it's true. I have no clue what sparks most of my ideas. I'm always working on several MS at once. If one has me stumped, I move on to something completely different to clear my mind.
What is your typical process for writing?
There's no such thing as "typical" when it comes to my writing. I believe in going with the flow and writing what, when and where the spirit hits me. I work on the story that screams the loudest that day, "pick me, pick me." If I hit a roadblock while sitting in my studio, I'll grab a notebook and head outside. Even a different chair in the same room helps, sometimes. Butt in chair, butt in grass, butt in water - whatever works at that particular moment. If I'm still having trouble writing, I read - blogs, articles or PBs. That always gets my juices flowing. I don't believe in staring at a blank page and forcing it. That just doesn't work for me.
And for some reason, I always seem to get my best ideas while riding in the car. TIP: I keep a text message open and send myself voice recordings. By the end of the trip, I often have a full-blown idea ready to go. If I can decipher my ramblings, that is.
What is the BEST piece of writing advice or inspiration that you have received so far?
Let it sit! Work on a story until you think you've got it and put it away... for at least a week, hopefully longer. If you're like me, you'll go back and say, "what was I thinking? This is NOT ready." And then, it's time to revise again. Lather, rinse, repeat works for writing too.
Have you taken any classes in the genre you write? Have they been helpful to you? Do you recommend taking classes? SCBWI? Conferences?
LOTS! I take advantage of every online class, webinar, or podcast I can find (and afford). I, actually, love this part. I was one of those weird kids who adored school. I have been to the SCBWI National conference in NYC, regional SCBWI-Mi conferences, and was, recently, accepted into the SCBWI-Nevada Mentor Program (Do you see a pattern, here?). Aside from joining SCBWI, joining a critique group, and reading in your genre, taking classes is the best thing you can do for your career. Check out all the opportunities on Kidlit411 - it's incredible!
TIP: if I don't have time to read an article or listen to a podcast or webinar, I save it to a Pinterest board for later.
What is one thing people don't know about you?
If you really knew me, you'd know that I like to be a bit wacky and off-kilter these days, just because I can (I spent 50+ years trying to be normal - I'm done pretending!) And, I might be a wee bit stubborn. Go ahead, tell me I can't accomplish this goal - I dare ya!
As a former educator and magazine editor/writer, Cindy is consumed by a life-long passion for the written word. Following her belief that books can guide and nurture a child for the rest of his or her life, she is embarking on a journey to write for children. It is her desire to facilitate a love for books in her readers. Her projects range from picture books to young adult novels. Writing for children also provides her with another excuse to spend time in the children's section of the bookstore.
Cindy is a member of SCBWI and participates in many online writing communities, taking advantage of the wealth of knowledge and expertise that her fellow authors have to offer. You can find her on Twitter @CindySchrauben - and Facebook - Cindy Williams Schrauben.