I'm very excited to have author Cyndi Sand-Eveland with us today. Her new book, A Tinfoil Sky was just released yesterday, January 10th. See the MMGM review here. Her first book Dear Toni was a Diamond Willow Honoree and received The Silver Birch Award for 2010. Dear Toni was also nominated for the Hackmatack and Red Cedar Awards. It was also chosen by the Banks Street College of Education in New York as one of the Best Books for Kids 2009 and listed in their 100th Anniversary Edition, and also chosen as one of the Best Books for Kids and Teens by the Canadian Children’s Book Council.Cyndi lives at the base of Morning Mountain just outside of Nelson BC, Canada.
Thanks so much for joining us today on the blog to talk about your writing and what role it plays in your life.
1. Why do you write for children?
I write to tell a story, and the stories I seem to want to write have children or youth as the protagonist. When I work with young people they inspire me.
When you say you "work with young people" what have you done? Over the years I've worked with the hearing impaired and as sign language interpreter. I've also tutored middle grade students and worked as an assistant for students with disabilities and ESL. Now, I'm working with a student that has a cochlear-implant. It's always been part-time which has given me time to write.
2. Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer. According to my mother I began writing at a very young age. Although to that statement she added,"But even with all the pages and pages of scribbles there were no discernible characters, or words, for that matter. Truly, I never really believed anything would come of it."
So, I guess I began early, but I think that those of us who write, process the world around us in a fairly similar manner. I seem to have two states, writing and thinking about what I will write. While I'm writing I feel a freedom that is addictive. Yes, it is great to be published, but mostly what it has done for me is legitimize my habit.
4. Many of my followers are writers, like myself, and we are always interested in the process a writer uses. Can you tell us about yours? Initially, I am inspired by something I see, read , or hear about. Then I let myself write with no rules: spelling errors, little or no punctuation, anything goes. I set a word count of 250 words the first few days, and then I double it, and then I double that until I'm not getting up from my desk until I have 1000 more words. By this time, I'm somewhere near 10,000wds. It's a game to get me hooked and it usually works. Although I have been known to erase 11 or 12 thousand words and start over. Once I have something I like, I promise myself I won't let anyone read anything until I have the bones of the story, and even then I hold the story close, keeping my characters in my thoughts pretty much 24/7. This is my favorite time; discovering who the characters are and what will happen next.
5. Describe a typical writing day. I am only recently getting back to writing. Last year I was hit head on in a car accident and broke my back, leg, hand, ribs, teeth, etc. Prior to the accident I wrote in the mornings, early, up at 4:30am until 7:30am, and them from 2:30 to 5:00pm. I wrote longer on the weekends and even longer hours in the summer. The process of returning to that rigor has been slow.
I'm so sorry to hear that, how has it impacted your writing and deadlines? A lot! After the accident in November 2010 I was on pain killers for the next two or three months. When I did return to writing it was difficult to realize how much energy it took and I would tire easily. In the Spring it was time to do edits on two projects. I had a difficult time keeping the story in my mind and had to read and re-read it to remember. Unfortunately, one of the projects had to be dropped because it took too long. It's been very difficult to accept my limitations.
6. Where is your favorite place to write? I write in my office with a pot of black tea, my dog by my feet, and music. I like to hit the keyboard as if it was a piano. What do you listen too? Instrumentals mostly, guitar, piano and Oboe solos. Music helps me to leave the world behind and dive into my story. Once I get the story down I like to use music for setting the mood and I even come up with theme songs. Sarah Harmer is someone I often enjoy.
7. Looking back on your publishing experience, what would you say was most challenging and what do you wish you would have known? The most challenging part was a few years ago, I was about half way through the process. The publisher had gone from loving the story to rejecting it. Not only that, they weren't sure I had it in me to do it justice. That comment sat on my shoulder, and I needed to continually remind myself why I was writing the story in the first place. Thankfully, in the end the desire to get the story down and to give life to that young girl, well, that kept me writing.
I think the thing I wish I would have known was it would have been good to wait until I was more recovered from the accident, off the pain medications, etc. There are changes I could see this past August I would have made, but I just couldn't see them back in May. It's just one of those life things, me just wanting to move forward and get on with my life, maybe trying too hard, or pushing too soon. Yes, nothing like hindsight.
8. What is the best writing advice you have ever received? Don't show your work too early.
9. Are you working on a new project? Can you tell us about it? Yes, I have one, but I am still practicing number eight.
10. Final Question: What advice would you give others that write for middle graders? Know your audience. Read current books in the genre you are writing, and resist teaching, or preaching, or steering away from real issues.
Thanks so much Cyndi for stopping by. We really appreciate what you've shared with us, today. I think one of the hardest things that we all struggle with is accepting our own limitations. It's hard not to get caught up in the rush and anxious energy that seems to exist in the publishing world. I really liked what you said about remembering why you write. I finally hung my reasons on the wall in front of my desk.
Okay, here's a question for everyone: Why Do You Write?