Weekend with a Writer: Beverly Stowe McClure (Part 1)

Weekend with a Writer is a new monthly feature on this blog, and it is my great pleasure to start off the series with Beverly Stowe McClure. Beverly writes young fiction, and a few weeks ago, we read one another’s novel at the same time. It was a great experience, and I look forward to introducing you to a fellow YA author.

 

Interview with Beverly Stowe McClure

If anyone had told Beverly she’d be a writer someday, she’d have thought they were crazy. When Beverly was a child, she hated to read. Even though her eighth grade teacher sent her poem “Stars” to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings, she hated to write. So what happened to change her mind? Here’s what she has to say:

When did you realize that reading was fun?

In spite of my rocky relationship with books, I attended the university which meant reading hundreds of books. (What was I thinking?) Surprisingly, I graduated with a degree in elementary education and became a teacher. Yes, I know, an unlikely career for me. But life has a funny way of pointing us in certain directions. My teaching was the beginning of my love of reading and writing. Listening to my students report on the Newbery books they read, sometimes dressing the part of the characters, other times acting out a favorite scene woke me up to what I’d been missing: Reading was fun. I also read to my sons and fell in love with Dr. Seuss. And I started wanting to write too, to have children read my stories and become the characters, for a time.

Why did you choose to write for children and teens?

Actually, children’s books chose me. I discovered that I enjoyed reading books for young people, especially for teens, more than adult books. I think I’m still a kid and don’t really want to grow up.

How did you get started writing?

I really had no idea where to begin, so I took a course from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Through them I learned the basics. I began by writing articles based on science experiments and art projects we did in school. At this point I was teaching fifth-grade science, reading, spelling and art. After a couple of years of submitting my articles, I sold my first one to Happiness, a TV type magazine. I still have the money in a frame on the wall. Other articles sold to leading children’s magazines such as Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. and others.

Why did you decide to write novels?

I was having fun with the magazine articles, but my dream was to write a novel. So I signed up for the Institute’s course on novel writing. Two years later, my first full-length story was complete. It now resides in a box in my writing room. Maybe someday I’ll revise it and send it off, maybe not. Since then five of my stories for teens have been published. The latest one, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, is scheduled for released June 15, 2010. I also have five more stories under contract.

 What is your writing schedule like?

I’m a morning person and like to write from about 9 to 11 or 12 AM on my current WIP. I usually have 2 or 3 stories going at a time.

I prefer a schedule. (The ex-teacher in me, I think.) Every day I write down what I hope to accomplish that day. I don’t always complete everything on the list, but I get the basics done.

In the afternoon, I do promo work, post on blogs, and answer email or run errands.

Where can we learn more about you and your writing?

My sites are: http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com

                     http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

                     http://rebelinbluejeans.wordpress.com

                     http://justbreeze.wordpress.com

                     http://lizzieswar.wordpress.com

 

*Tomorrow I will post my review of Beverly Stowe McClure’s Just Breeze. *

Free Writing

When I was a teacher, I used to assign freewriting to my students, which is writing freely for a certain amount of time. The point is to get out the words, the thoughts, and overcome writing inhibitions. The technique, oddly enough, encourages students to write and not worry about grammar and conventions, but just to express their thoughts. That is where the “free” comes in. It was a liberating approach to writing–probably started in the 70’s, you know?

Anyway, tonight as it passes midnight. I feel compelled to write–not some chapter in my novel or some thing I should be writing, but just a free write. Let’s see where I go…

I have not written anything much in weeks, but I don’t have writer’s block. I have something worse: a lack of focus. My mind wanders in many directions…thoughts exist in fragments…even now I write without the normal cadence at the keyboard. Because if the keyboard were an instrument, I’d be banging on the drums. I’m a loud typist, exceedingly loud. There are quiet keyboards, but I’m not sure this would help. Or would it hinder me? I think I like the sound–even if the people around me (for what may be for miles) find it rather annoying.

Back to my point…(Did I have one?) And then there are these long…pauses…where I lose direction. My brain stops, freezes–and the moment is lost. But I know what is causing my writer’s ADD, if you will. My mind is crammed like a locker full of personal stuff. I’m too busy thinking about the real world to escape into my fictional realm.

I hate that Rob, Chloe, Callie, Ryan, and a bunch of other people who you don’t know about from book two have to wait until we buy a new house, plan lessons for the end of the school year (I homeschool in case you were wondering), decide what to have for dinner, find a way for laundry to wash and fold itself,  keep up with emails, family obligations…and the list goes on…

And if I say “once I/we (insert item from list), then I’ll have more time to write,” then I’m only kidding myself, right? Something always finds a way to fill our time.

Okay! I need to make a mid-year resolution and put writing back into the schedule. I need to do this because I’ve got an unfinished manuscript to complete. The first thing I need to do is go to bed early. (Hmm, it’s now 12:23…I guess “early” is a relative thing, huh?) Anyway, tomorrow night I’ll go to bed early, and on Sunday morning, I’ll write.

Goodnight, keyboard. Goodnight, computer. Goodnight, mind. Rest up now. You have a book to finish…

Easy writing ideas!

Welcome, Teachers!

Here is a simple lesson idea for middle/high school students. Have your students read chapter excerpts from Nothing but Trouble after Midnight on this blog, discuss them in your class, and complete these simple prompts:

Also, check out the “Teacher” page on the right for more information about using Nothing but Trouble after Midnight in your classroom.

  • Chapter One: Key Players

After reading the first chapter, consider some of the embarassing moments in your life. Pick one that stands out to you and tell about it. How old were you? Who else was there? Do people still bring up this event, and if so, how do you feel about it now?

  • Chapter Two: First Impressions

In chapter two, Chloe recounts her first impression of Austin Walker. Whenever you meet someone, you develop a first impression. Think of a first impression of someone you know well, and without giving names, explain how it changed–for better or worse–after you got to know the person better.

  • Chapter Three: Better Than Hallmark

In the third chapter, Chloe expresses her gratitude to Rob with a drawing. There are many ways to show your appreciation for someone else. Now think of someone who deserves your gratitude and plan a way to thank him. You could draft a simple thank-you note, make a card, or create your own idea.