Linda Joy Singleton interview with David Alan Binder

Post date: May 11, 2017 4:10:45 AM

Linda Joy Singleton interview with David Alan Binder

Bio from her website: Linda Joy Singleton is the author of over 45 books for kids, including YALSA honored THE SEER series and DEAD GIRL WALKING trilogy. She submitted short stories to magazines when she was 14 and finished her first book during a 2-week holiday. She kept stories she wrote as a kid and loves to share them when in her school presentations. A fan letter at age 13 led to her friendship with author Margaret Sutton and later a co-written Judy Bolton mystery. When she was 14 she wrote a goal of wanting to write a series of her own--and it happened. She encourages kids, "Follow your dreams no matter how impossible they seem. With hard work and determination, dreams come true


1. Where are you currently living?

In the foothills near Sacramento, CA

2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

Always keep learning. Writing is a journey with twists and changing landscapes and exciting new opportunities if you're open to new experiences.

3. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

I have a really great spacious office with window views of nature -- yet that's not where I write anymore. It's easier to prop myself up against pillows in my bed and write on my laptop.

4. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

I have self-published a few books and worked for both large and small publishers. Self-publishing hasn't worked for me very well because I write for younger kids that are seldom online with credit cards. Self-publishing works best for YA and adult novels. I started publishing with traditional publishers in the 90's and have published over 45 juvenile books (mostly series).

a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located?

I have books coming out with Albert Whitman (Chicago), Little Bee (New York) and recently sold a picture book to Amicus Ink.

5. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

Learn craft. I see many people jumping into publishing with a great idea but not taking the time to practice writing skills. My first several books did not sell but they were the first steps on the ladder of learning how to write. It's basic to write character + action + conflict; but craft of language, rhythm, foreshadowing, scenery, dialogue are the layers that lift a story from basic to beautiful writing. My favorite comparison is that you wouldn't expect a beginning pianist to give a concert. Good writers learn craft by writing, rewriting, rejections and more rewriting.

6. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I have an agent. But I have sold half of my books on my own so it can be done. I network by belonging to SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers) and Sisters in Crime, attending conferences when I can. I have a critique group that meets every other week. I met my current agent years ago when she was an editor and we got to know each other when I attended a writing retreat. But the way I got my very first agent (she retired) was because she had an add in a writer magazine and I liked that she'd sold a middle-grade book to a publisher I respected. So I queried here with a few different books, and she liked one, so I rewrote it and submitted it to her. She took me on for this book and it sold as the first in a four book series to a major publisher.

7. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

Read in all genres and attending writing conferences. If you can't physically get to writing conferences, attend online. And don't send out a manuscript too quickly -- let it sit for a while, ask writer friends for critiques, and rewrite it until it shines.

8. What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I started out enthusiastic about everything I wrote and confident that my creativity would wow editors. But I quickly found out that my writing skills needed to be sharpened and that I needed to write a book that fit a publishing list. I had the best luck when I wrote for a specific publisher's list, thinking of what I can do for them instead of the other way around.

9. How many books have you written?

I have over 45 published books, mostly series and lately some picture books, too.

10. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?

There are no tricks. Just sit at my keyboard almost every day, read often to keep in touch with the market, and write. When I read, I pay attention and am always learning.

11. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story? Whatever is your first thought abandon it and jump to a different idea. Make sure the twists come naturally out of a character's personality. People have many unusual quirks that can lead to surprises in a story.

12. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

A great cover--which isn't usually something an author can control unless they publish the book themselves. Book signings, interviews, blogs, speaking engagements -- try everything that works best for you. Every book and every author is unique. Analyze what makes you unique and use that to share your book with the world.

13. What are some ways in which you promote your work?

I almost always say "yes" to promotion opportunities.

14. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

I can look back at a few choices that didn't turn out well, but there's no way of knowing all the small choices that succeeded. So I have no regrets; only a determined path forward to do the best I can.

15. What saying or mantra do you live by?

You only fail if you fail to try.

16. Anything else you would like to say?

Writing is a journey, not one moment. Try to pause along the way and count your successes and pat yourself on the shoulder for a job well-done. Enjoy your journey.