Author Spotlight: Rosie J. Pova
Today KidLit411 is happy to feature our friend and author, Rosie J. Pova! Rosie is the author of IF I WEREN'T WITH YOU which debuted a few weeks ago.
Be sure to enter to win a copy of IF I WEREN'T WITH YOU at the end of this interview.
I'm a native Bulgarian and grew up in Bulgaria before immigrating to North America in 1998. We lived in Canada for a few years before moving to the United States.
I've always written as a child in both Bulgarian and French, since I went to French language school. I mostly wrote poetry and short stories. My first year in French school–which would be approximately the equivalent of freshman year here–we had a literary assignment/contest and my short story won first place among all the classes. That was really exciting!
Literature and French were my favorite subjects in school. Even though I was a straight-A student, I kind of struggled with the non-creative, non-language subjects as I did not have a natural inclination for them.
But as life does sometimes, it separated me from my writing when my adult responsibilities took priority. I came back to writing shortly after my first child was born. Needless to say, my first stories weren't very good (though I did not know that at the time, I thought they were brilliant!). But that was only logical for someone who'd just started out, on top of being a non-native English speaker. I had no idea how to write a good story for the current market and I didn't know anything about the publishing business. In my mind, I still had the preachy fairy tales and forced rhyming, didactic poems from my childhood as examples. It took me quite a few years to learn the basics, read a lot of books in my genre, as well as books on the craft, to get a grasp of what it would take to make it, to create publishable stories.
But just because I started to comprehend the various components of a great book, it didn't mean I could apply that knowledge to my writing yet. Actually, the more I learned, the more I understood how much more I needed to learn until my skills would allow me to put it all together.
There was more to explore. So I started attending conferences and workshops, joined SCBWI and found a critique group. Those steps were crucial in my journey!
And here I am today.
Can you tell us about how you discover ideas for your manuscripts?
My ideas come from everywhere: the news (if I accidently catch a phrase since I don't like watching the news–they're too depressing), reading published books that inspire me to tackle a similar subject in my own way or the opposite subject. A conversation can spark an idea. Sometimes a title just pops into my head.
Another way is just sitting down and brainstorming. I'm very grateful to SroryStorm (formerly PiBoIdMo) because the majority of my ideas came from successfully completing the challenge for three years in a row.
But ideas only don't go too far, so a shout out to Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12 for motivating me to turn those ideas into manuscripts.
Then comes the KidLit411 with a wealth of information on the business–freelance editors, building a platform, promotional opportunities etc.
There're certainly more groups and I can't possibly mention every single one, but to me, the support of the community has been invaluable and I view all of the writers' groups as one big family whose help and collective knowledge has been the cornerstone of success.
What is your typical process for writing?
Depending on the story, the age group and the genre, the writing process varies. With picture books, I often come up with the title first and then explore the subject matter, trying to find the "meat" of the story. I usually know the beginning and I must know the ending. But not always. I currently have one WIP for which I can't decide on the right ending.
It all depends on how I got the idea and what elements are already in place from the start. I might have an emotion that comes to the forefront and I search for the best way to convey it. It's so easy to lose it if you bury it in too many words or force it with the wrong words.
Another picture book example from one of my manuscripts is when I came up with a high-concept, character-driven story that needed an unexpected twist in order to work. But for a while, I couldn't figure out how to pull it off. Once I did, it was very satisfying and the story got some attention. I can't tell you more for now, but I'm very excited about that one. My agent and I are working on a submission plan for it so hopefully it finds a great home soon.
But back to your question on my process. If I'm writing a novel (MG or YA) then I certainly need to have at least a rough outline. I spend some time brainstorming until I get to know my characters a bit, build their lives, problems and destination. Then I take it chapter by chapter. It's very different from writing a picture book, obviously, and sometimes it's hard to switch from one to the other if you get in "the zone" of writing in a particular form.
It's very satisfying to be able to complete a novel though. It took me eighteen months to finish my middle grade, HAILEY QUEEN PRANKING MAKES PERFECT: THE ALIEN ENCOUNTER that just released. I am about to wrap up my YA novel soon so that's another exciting adventure I look forward to, in addition to publishing more picture books.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I'm going to repeat some of what I've said before, but it is still my advice to aspiring writers so I hope it helps.
First off, be honest with yourself and figure out if you really really want to do this professionally or you view your writing more as a hobby. Can you see yourself being a writer for the long run? Dream big, but don't glorify the experience of getting published or envision an instant post-publishing glamour. You will always have to deal with some sort of heartache, disappointment, rejection and lots and lots of stress and deadlines (not to scare you or anything :)). You need to be willing to take the good with the bad.
So, if you've decided you're serious about becoming an author and you're committed to reaching your goals, this is my advice for your next steps.
Ask yourself, "What are the three specific things (even small ones) that I can do today to advance my career as a writer?" (depending on your level of experience or stage in your journey). Some examples: read five newly published picture books and analyze the best elements in them that can apply to your writing. Or research agents and come up with a list of ten who are the best match for your work. Polish a manuscript. Brainstorm new story ideas . . . You get the point. Repeat every day. Push yourself to do more--it's your journey and you have so much control in the direction you take and the results you create for yourself.
Take charge and take action!
What is one thing people don't know about you?
That I'm terrified of walking on ice and always have been, even as a kid.
Where can people find you on the internet?
My Facebook author page is Rosie J. Pova Children's Author
Rosie J. Pova is a children's author, poet, wife and a mother of three. She is originally from Bulgaria now living in Texas with her husband and three kids. Her latest release is a sci-fi humorous novel, Hailey Queen Pranking Makes Perfect: The Alien Encounter and her next picture book, Sarah's Song, will be out in September, 2017.
Ever since childhood, Rosie has been fascinated with the power of words. Her passion for writing took her on a long journey of discoveries, learning and growth through the ups and downs, but she is happy and grateful for all experiences. Rosie has three new children's books releasing this year. She dreams of inviting many readers into her make-believe worlds, hoping to touch them with her words. Visit her at http://www.rosiejpova.com/