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Friday, December 30, 2011

Would You Help Me with my Writing Project?

Dear Ms. Curtiss,

My name is Amy, and I am 11 years old. For a school project, I am working on a career I-search about how to become an author of children’s fiction books.  As part of my project, I have been asked to interview an author, and I would like to interview you by email. If this is ok with you, could you please help me by answering the questions below?

Thank you for your help.  Also, thank you for the autographed copy of your poster on the Legend of the Giant Panda!


How to Be a Writer
1.           What are the best colleges and universities to become a writer?

2.          What kinds of classes do you have to take to be a writer?

3.          What kind of college degrees do you need to be a writer?

4.          What can I do as an 11-year old to prepare to become a children’s fiction writer?

Career Description
5.          What is the process to get a book published?
6.          How do you know if the people who read your books like them?
7.          What is a typical day for an author like?

8.           How did you decide to become a writer?

9.           How do writers develop their own style of writing?

10.      Do children’s fiction authors need to be able to write well in all styles of writing (such as persuasive writing, compare and contrast, and response to literature) to be a good children’s fiction writer?

11.       Since children read at different skill levels, how does a children’s author adjust their writing style and content to each particular skill level?
12.      Is it easy being an author? Why or Why not?

13.      Do good authors tend to love writing when they are very young and just know that they want to write books someday?
14.     How do you find new topics and story ideas to write about?
15.      What time of the day do you usually create your best writing?

16.     How many years do authors tend to continue to write books before they decide to retire from writing?

17.     Could you write your whole life because you want to?  Do you think that you will ever retire from writing books?

18.      What are some advantages of being an author?

19.      What are some disadvantages of being an author?

20.     What is the average amount of time that you usually spend writing every day?

21.      Is it possible to be a successful author and also a devoted mother raising kids?

22.     Do you have to travel a lot to be an author?  If so, where do you travel to?

23.     What is the average salary of a writer?

24.    What is the range of salaries for children’s book writers?

25.     What is a good alternative job if it is too difficult to get a book published?

Dear Amy,

1. The best colleges to become a writer are those colleges that teach you how to think, not what to think. Hillsdale College is the best for this.

2. Take a humanities course, and great literature courses. Shakespeare is a must!

3. You don't need any degrees to be a writer. But you need to know how to think and the process of writing. I would recommend Robert McKee's book Story and John Truby's book Anatomy of Story

4. Read everything, especially myths and legends, and fables.

5. In the past you sent query letters out to get and agent, an agent would get your work published. Now so much is on the Internet that you can publish yourself directly on amazon.com. However, the important thing is to form or join a writer's group so you can get feedback for your work. My next book, Hanner and the Bullies, went through over a hundred drafts and was read several times by more than a dozen people.

6. People write me and tell me how much they like my books.

7. My days vary. Many days I am booksigning and do not write. On days when I'm not booksigning I write several hours a day.

8. I knew by the time I was four years old that I was supposed to write. You can read my bio on my website  www.abcurtiss.com

9. Your style develops according to your personality.

10. I write simple books for younger children and more complicated books for older children. No children's book is any good unless adults can enjoy it as well.

11. The main thing is to have a good story to tell.

12. Writing is very difficult to do it well. You have to keep plugging on even when you get discouraged.

13. Yes

14. They come to me from observing ordinary life. To be a writer you must be the kind of person who notices everything.

15. I write anytime. No time is better than another.

16. Writers never retire. Writing is a craft not a career

17. I will write as long as I can think straight. I'm 77 now and am working on three novels.

18. I don't know any disadvantages.

19. The advantage in being a writer is that you get paid for doing something you love

20.  Sometimes I write for 4 to 5 hours at a time. I have no set schedule. Other authors have a set time when they sit down to the computer.

21. Yes.

22. Authors mainly travel in their imagination and create their own worlds.

23. There is no average salary.  Few writers can support themselves on their writing along.

24. There is no average range of salary for any writer. Many children's books these days are self-published.

25. Many writers have other careers as doctors, lawyers, mothers. There is no alternative to having a craft. A craft is a talent that you pursue.

Good luck with your project. A. B. Curtiss

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