Sunday, March 11, 2012

Past Points from the Published-- Marsha Diane Arnold

From January 26th, 2012
Marsha Diane Arnold
I am so happy that I had a chance to communicate with the talented Marsha Diane Arnold.  She and I came in contact through the NorCal SCBWI e-mail group, and I am already learning so much from her!  Here are her answers to my "Points from the Published" interview questions.  Enjoy!

1.  What was your path to publishing a book? 
As I tell students at school presentations, “I always loved to read, but I never thought of being a writer until I was grown with two children of my own.”

Indeed, it was my children who inspired me to write.  I started with a weekly newspaper column, “homegrown treasures.”  I wrote it for ten years.  Being on deadlines (I like to call them lifelines) and having to come up with something new and creative every week was very good writing practice. The column was well received, had a limited syndication, and won three Local Columnist awards from the California Newspaper Association.  It’s very encouraging when people like your work!

During this time, I started to write both fiction and non-fiction stories for kids’ magazines.  But my heart’s desire was to write a picture book.  After I wrote the manuscript for my first book, Heart of a Tiger, I started submitting it to NYC publishers.  It was rejected 13 times before I found the editor who loved it as much as I did.  Yes, for most of us, becoming a writer takes patience and perseverance.  But it’s worth it.  Heart of a Tiger has touched the hearts of many children and adults and has won more awards than any of my other books.  One was the Ridgway award for “Best First Book by a New Author.”  I was on my way.

2.  How long have you been in this business?  When did you start?  When did you get your first book published?

Thank you to Marsha Diane Arnold for taking the time to answer my “Points from the Published” questions.
Heart of a Tiger was published in 1995; I started writing my column, “homegrown treasures” in 1985.
3.  What inspires you or motivates you to carry on?
It was my children who inspired the “homegrown treasures” column.  Truly, I’m inspired and enthralled by so many things.  The difficult part is to choose and to focus on one idea at time.

I’ve been lucky.  My books are well-loved by children and parents alike.  When they ask me about my next book, I always feel I need to go home, sit down at my computer, and write another book for them.

4.  Do you have another job or is writing your only job?

Let’s see…I’m a gardener, a yoga enthusiast, a line-dancer, a photographer, a hiker, and a bird watcher.  Sadly, none of those pay me for my efforts!

I am a writer, and as with many writers, I do author visits throughout the year.  At first I was terrified to stand before a crowd of 200 or more, but now I enjoy it.  I’ve traveled all over the world visiting schools and giving presentations and writing “funshops”.  You can see where I’ve been on my website here:  I also speak at conventions, young author’s festivals, and enjoy being on the faculty for writing conferences.

5.  Do you have an agent?  If yes, what steps did you take to obtain one?

Yes, my agent is the amazing Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary. 

I sold all 11 of my published books by myself, but in today’s publishing arena, I believe having an agent is important.  I was lucky that when I approached Karen last year, she loved my manuscripts and agreed to work with me. 

I learned about agents through SCBWI, the Internet, and books at my library.  After reading about different literary agencies and agents, I decided which to approach.  It’s important to have the right agent for your personality and style.  My agent, Karen Grencik, is discerning, supportive, and a wonderful cheerleader.  I think we are a good match!

6.  What advice would you give to a new writer?
Know that becoming a published author can take time.  In today’s world, there are many roads to becoming published, but the road I know is that of traditional publishing.  My publishers are Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), Random House, and Abrams, all fabulous publishing houses.  The editors I worked with are fabulous as well.  But, it took me a long time to become one of their authors.

When I decided to write picture books, the first thing I did was go to the library.  Of course!  I read all the books I could find on how to write a picture book as well as books on the business of writing.  Then I joined SCBWI; they provide so many of the answers. SCBWI will connect you with other writers.  They are constantly organizing conferences, where you can meet editors and agents and learn the basics as well as the details. I started a writers’ group.  Writers’ groups are great for sharing your stories with others, getting critiques, and supporting one another on the journey.

With the launch of my revamped website, I’ve decided to start offering manuscript consultations.  So once your idea has been developed into a picture book story and has been written and rewritten and rewritten, I’m available for input.  You can read more about my consultations at:

Most important, write about what you are passionate about, be professional, and enjoy the journey!  Now stop reading about me and go be the Creative You!

Here are some of Marsha Diane Arnold's wonderful books:

You can learn more about Marsha Diane Arnold at:

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