Welcome to the tour for award winning author, Margot Finke. Margot answers several personal questions here and gives us an intimate look at being a children's writer. Her books include Taconi and Claude, Horatio Humble and Ruthie and The Hippos Behind.
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I came to Oregon from Australia many years ago with my American husband and our 3 kids.
We met when he migrated to Queensland, and set up a wholesale tropical fish hatchery. I owned a pet store that also sold tropical fish, and I was his first retail customer. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Seven years later we went to live in Oregon where he went to College. He told me early on that he had plans to return to the Pacific Northwest some day. He is a New Yorker by birth, but Oregon stole his heart.
We live on small acreage and love it. Kids all grown now and off doing their thing. One of those “things” is 7 grandchildren – YEA! I write books for kids: rhyming picture books and mid-grades. Eleven published so far. I also run a Manuscript Critique Service that draws clients from many countries. It is always a huge thrill to hear that a manuscript I helped polish has been published. Almost a good as having one of my own books published – I did say almost!
Early on, I was lucky enough to have several talented and experienced writers take me under their wings and mentor me – bless them! And I was no overnight success. It took enough rejection letters to paper our bathroom, and rewrites galore, before I finally made it – published at last!
2. Describe your desk/workspace
The moment our third child headed for college, I commandeered the family room and turned it into my own writing lair. Husband built me the desk of my dreams – drawers, shelves and places for all my “stuff.” A comfy sofa and chairs, for those “can’t find a thing to write about days,” a fireplace for winter snuggling, and pictures of kids and grandkids. In winter we bring in all the tender plants. They flourish on shelves under gro-lux lights my husband set up for them. Windows offer a view of our back gardens. Am I lucky or what?
.3. Do you have a favorite quote?
A manuscript is like a house. Without a solid foundation the supports will crumble.
4. What are you currently reading?
A gripping tale, The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini. That man strings powerful words together, making them glow with insight and empathy.
5. What is the best advice you've ever received?
Have patience and stick with it. One of my early mentors told me, “All you need is to work hard, rewrite often, be patient, and stick with it. Oh, and a pinch of luck never hurt either.”
6. If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?
It would be my dear Mum. For Mum it would have to be tea and fruitcake – the cake rich and rum soaked. She was a loving and loyal person, with a great deal of common sense, and an instinctive knowledge of people. Looking back, I realize that I never valued her advice half as much as I should have. If I had listened harder, I could have avoided a whole bunch of strife when I was younger. I now find myself offering Mum’s words of wisdom to my own children. They just pop out of my mouth without me thinking, so they must have sunk in after all – better late than never.
I would hug her tight, and tell her I loved her. And then I would listen, and carefully hold close to my heart all the new insights she had to offer. I miss you Mum..
7. What are your top three favorite books and why?
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Because it touched me, and it felt so believable and real. Sebold made me believe in Angels. It drew me in and held me fast.
The Sign of the Seahorse – Graeme Base
Because my picture books are all in rhyme, I really appreciate this writer’s rhyming craft. He has a unique ability to build a wonderful story within the parameters of terrific rhyme and meter.
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
This tale of beauty, loneliness and terror, dragged me to Afghanistan, and trapped me within every painful chapter. I couldn’t tear myself away from Hosseini’s characters and what they endured. Every paragraph was a lifeline of words that held me hostage until he was ready to let me go. Women here are all so lucky to be safe in the USA.
8. What was your favorite book as a child and why?
Alice in Wonderland. All those wild and wonderful characters, and what they got up to, fed my imagination. I rooter for Alice. I wanted to slide down the rabbit hole too. The red Queen was awesome. I wanted my friends to be more like The Mad Hatter and that disappearing cat. Outside of reading, I guess my childhood was pretty dreary.
9. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Blimey, mate, you do ask tough questions. Not sure if this is a quirk, but I try not to waffle on.
I guess what I tell my clients sums it up quite well: “You need to write tight and terrific – as tight as your granny’s new girdle! Waffles are great for breakfast, but keep them out of your chapters.”
10. Do you write full-time or part-time?
Sort of. Now that our kids have flown the coop (excuse the cliché), I get to write whenever I fancy: with one caveat. My husband is very supportive, and now that he has retired, he takes on a lot of extras so I can write and promote my books. But every night at 8pm I quit computing, leave my lair, and go spend the evening with him, This time together works, because we’ve been happily married for almost 40 years.
11. What are your current marketing strategies for “Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble?”
Due to an eighteen month long hassle with hip and knee replacement surgery, I have been
forced to do most book promotion via the computer. Easy on the legs, but hard on the butt! Plus virtual book tours, like this one. These Tours reach out to the people who actually buy books for kids. Then there’s my two Blogs, a Website, and lots of Facebooking and Twittering as the basis of it. I also look online forlLibrarians, teachers, and blogs that cater to mothers of young children - grandmothers too. I target local schools and libraries, newspapers and radio, with Press Releases that are tailored to suit each outlet. Then follow up with a phone call. Finding good book reviewers is also high on my list of MUST DO things.
I also wrote a fun, time-travel short story that involves characters from my latest 3 books. The plot has them join forces to get Taconi and Claude back to the Aussie outback of the 1950’s, where they belong, People can WIN a FREE eBook of “Taconi and Claude’s 21st Century Adventure,” during this tour. All they have to do is leave a comment on the host Blog. All 3 of these books come in hard copy and eBook. But these days, a FREE kid friendly BOOK FREEBY is worth grabbing..
And it helps that I am not unknown as an author: 11 books published. All have been well received, and boast great reviews. I have many contacts within online lists, blogs, and writing lists that I can call on when needed. Linkedin and JacketFlap are great sources to mine for information and promotional hi-tec. People contact me these days, asking to interview me for magazines and radio. This sort of promo reaches way beyond my local area. I also plan on using Skype + webcam in schools and other areas, to widen my promotional range. For those willing to push the promotional envelope, PowerPoint and the internet offer boundless opportunities.
12. Could you share about any current writing projects?
At the moment I am polishing a sequel of sorts to Taconi and Claude. In this one, Bindi and Josh, the grandsons of Taconi and Boss Howard, deal with nasty sibling rivalry, an outback walkabout that could be the death of them, and a crazed old medicine man who wants Josh dead. He must eat witchetty grubs and emy eggs or starve, while Old Man Roo scares the pants off both of them. It is only Bindi’s outback smarts, and later on the tribal Elder, who save Josh’s bones from bleaching in the outback sun. Title: Survival by Walkabout
13. What would be the best way for readers to contact you?
My Books – Help for Writers – Manuscript Critique Service
Margot’s Magic Carpet: http://perfectmagiccarpet.blogspot.com/
All 11 books on the one page + details and links.
HOOK Kids on Reading: http://hookkidsonreading.blogspot.com/
My Book Trailers, other books, writing news
14. Where can people find your books?
Amazon - http://preview.tinyurl.com/4o2bmyk
Barnes and Noble: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3dvtxnj
Continue on the tour tomorrow at http://thecryptcapersseries.blogspot.com/