Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.
This week author, Margo Sorenson, is visiting with us. Margo, can you share a little about yourself?
I’ve been lucky enough (and believe me, it’s a lot about luck!) to be an author of twenty-eight books for young readers, After a childhood in Spain and Italy, raising a family, teaching middle and high school, and living in Hawaii and Minnesota, I now make my home in California with my husband, where I visit my adorable grandchildren, write, do school visits, and volunteer at the La Quinta Boys and Girls Club. I can be found at www.margosorenson.com and on Twitter as @ipapaverison.
28! That’s amazing! Congrats on all that good luck (and hard work J)
Tell us about your latest project.
In my newest middle grade/tween ebook, TIME OF HONOR, fourteen-year-old Connor’s smart mouth gets her in and—luckily—out of trouble on her prep school’s debate team and in the classroom. On a field trip to the U.K., when she is suddenly catapulted into the year 1272, she finds her royal new friends’ lives are threatened by a conspiracy fueled by greed. When William and Maud learn that their father has been murdered on the Crusade, they beg her to help them find who is plotting against them. William must confront his enemy in battle, but what does Connor discover about herself and her ability to use words well when she tries to save her new friends—and herself? Published by MuseItUp Publishing, Canada, (it’s fun being edited by Canadians!) it is available on amazon.com, and ww.museituppublishing.com
Oh my gosh, I just had a middle grade accepted by MuseItUp, the editorial comment is funny! Can’t wait. I’ll definitely add your book to my to-read list, I love time travel. Plus, the cover is great!
Now for the threes. Share your top three to the following to help us know you better.
- Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.
For writing, I couldn’t live without a pencil, a notebook, and my laptop. From the time I was a little kid, I’ve loved the scent of newly-sharpened pencils, because it just seems so full of promise – those wonderful words and sentences you’re going to write that will transport you (and hopefully, readers!) to another time and place. There’s nothing like having a notebook, either, with those blank lines just begging to be filled with your scribblings and scrabblings. I always write by hand, skipping lines, because there are so many words that need to be changed in those very first drafts – well, and in the later drafts, too (blush!). I can’t imagine being anywhere without my pencils (and I always carry a hand pencil-sharpener!) and my notebook. Where else would I jot down that stray thought – that quirky event I just witnessed – or another plot point or character insight for a work in progress? After I’ve written and revised many times in the notebook, which would be the same as only the first chapter of a middle grade or YA novel, or the entire manuscript of a picture book, then it’s time to put it onto the laptop. Warning – avviso – advertencia – avertissement: I just spent eight weeks with a pencil and my notebook and it took me many, many hours working and reworking the 420 words of my newest picture book draft before I felt I could enter it onto the laptop. Guess what? It still needs many months of revision! The laptop is a blessing (easy to use for revisions) and a curse (those words look so perfect in Times New Roman). We writers have to remember the First Commandment of Writers: Thou Shalt Not Fall In Love With Thine Own Words! (Thanks to Ellen Kozak for that)
- Top 3 skills to hone for people just starting in your business.
In my opinion, one of the top skills to hone is a willingness to revise. As writers, we have to work hard to be able to divorce ourselves from our words and our vested interest in what we’ve already written, so that we can accept critiques and suggestions and be willing to look at our work with a cold, hard eye and in a clear light, during those dark moments when nothing seems to be working, or, even harder, in those euphoric moments when everything seems to be working beautifully. It can be gut-wrenching! William Faulkner wrote about “killing your darlings,” and it is so difficult to give up some of our favorite phrases, sentences, chapters, characters, and, yes, even manuscripts. I have files and files on the laptop titled “outtakes.” That seems to help just a bit to take the sting out of revisions. Kind of. Another top skill is persistence. So many times we are ready to give up, throw in the towel, punt, have another glass of vino in the face of constant rejection. Seriously, someone once said that the only difference between a professional and an amateur is that the professional didn’t quit. The third top skill would be willingness to risk. This is where I fall down, big-time, since I love being safe. Someday, I’d love to write as if no one were looking over my shoulder, but, at my age, that’s not likely to happen; so I leave that to all of you beginning and/or younger writers: write what you’re afraid of, write what you dare not, and I’ll be there, applauding fervently, as you cross the finish line of your wonderful manuscript that will rock the world as we know it. Believe in yourself and in your dream. As Beryl Markham (Ernest Hemingway was one of her admirers) wrote in her eloquent memoir WEST WITH THE NIGHT: “Work and hope, but never hope more than you work.”
- Top 3 leisure activities.
One of my top three leisure activities is reading – imagine that! I usually read two books at the same time, and I enjoy YA fiction (DAIRY QUEEN, WINTERGIRLS, STORY OF A GIRL, TWILIGHT – yes, that!), adult fiction and non-fiction, especially sports books. Authors who write about the fallibilities of memory like Hilary Mantel (WOLF HALL), Ian McEwan (ATONEMENT), and Kazuo Ishiguro (REMAINS OF THE DAY) I find enthralling, and the human interest factors of sports books, such as CARL HUBBELL: KING OF THE SCREWBALL and SAM: THE ONE AND ONLY SAM SNEAD add depth of character to the figures we read about or watch on the playing fields. Watching baseball is one of my favorite activities, because there’s something about the elegant rhythm of the game, the unspoken tension, the thwarted ambition, and the unfettered joy that speaks to the very basic essential nature of being human. There are so many unwritten stories in every baseball game. My top leisure activity is playing with my grandchildren; there’s something so renewing about seeing the world through their eyes, and I treasure each moment and giggle. They keep me young (when they’re not wearing me out!) and their ebullience inspires me in my writing, and I love, love, love reading to them. My leisure activities do seem to center around the power of stories!
Margo, where can our tech-savvy readers go to keep up with you and your work?
Website: www.margosorenson.com There are lots of links on the “interviews” tab to visit!
Thanks Margo for joining us on this week’s Strands of Thought. Best of luck with your writing!
I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. Especially lately since I’ve been really busy and haven’t been able to recruit guests! GUESTS WANTED! If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.