The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has within its membership our local Southern Breeze region, which includes Georgia, Alabama and part of Florida. A conference is coming this October 12th to Birmingham, AL. What a great group of speakers are coming!
I had the opportunity to ask Jennifer Echols, one of the members of the faculty for the 2013 Writing and Illustrating for Kids Conference (WIK) a few questions about her work. Jennifer writes Y/A Romances and her workshop at WIK will be on the topic: “How Hot CAN it get in Y/A Romance?” And by the way folks, her YA romance DIRTY LITTLE SECRET is available now and her romantic comedy PLAYING DIRTY will be coming Oct 29th.
Me: Jennifer, why do you write for Y/A?
Jennifer: I always try to write the book I want to read, and I truly love YA romances.
Me: What is your writing process?
Jennifer: Wow, what a mess! If left to my own devices, I just get an idea and start writing. That isn’t possible nowadays because my agent and my editors want me to write a proposal first. For me, that is like icing a cake and then baking it. I beat my head against the wall trying to do that for several months.
Then, when it’s time to write in earnest, I jot down whatever scenes come to me. Dialogue is easiest, and that tells me about the characters. Usually I’ll write some scenes at the end of the book, then the middle. I skip around like this until I have 150 pages or so and can’t find anything anymore. I make a calendar of the events in the book, then read through what I’ve got and put everything in chapters. Now I can start writing at the beginning and fill holes until I reach the end.
Do not try this at home. Believe me, I have attempted to streamline this process or just de-crazy-fy it a bit. By now I have resigned myself to the fact that it works for me.
Me: What life experiences have you had that might have influenced you in your writing?
Jennifer: I grew up in Alexander City, AL, on beautiful Lake Martin. You can see my experiences growing up there in my books: the lake itself, the small town I was dying to get out of but really wasn’t so bad, and all the fun I had as drum major of the marching band.
One nice thing about Alex City that made it very different from a lot of other small towns in the South is that all the kids in town went to the same public school. That is, there was one school for first and second grades, one for third and fourth grades, and so on. The school you attended wasn’t determined by your neighborhood. If you were in fifth grade in Alex City, you went to Radney, period. And during integration (which, astoundingly, happened only six years before I started school), the town elders asked people to keep their children in the public schools and not send them to the private schools that were popping up. People complied, and the private schools never got a foothold. As a result, I think folks I graduated with have an unusually deep understanding of what it means to get along with kids literally from the other side of the tracks. I explore those sorts of relationships in my books.
Me: What are you working on right now?
Jennifer: I’m writing a proposal. See the question above, the one where I’m banging my head against the wall. After that, I’ll resume work on my Superlatives series of YA romantic comedies for Simon Pulse, a division of Simon & Schuster. The series is about three friends at a Florida high school who are selected to represent “who’s who” categories for their senior class, and how those labels change the way they see themselves. The first novel, BIGGEST FLIRTS, will be published on May 20. You can check out the adorable cover on my web site: http://www.jennifer-echols.com/biggestflirts.html.
Me: Give us a hint about your upcoming session: How Hot CAN it get in Y/A Romance?
Jennifer: It can get EXTREMELY HOT, but it doesn’t have to! Everyone can write (and sell!) the heat level they’re comfortable with and enjoy reading. During my talk, I’ll explain why all heat levels are still okay in the current marketplace and why it’s so important to write the book you want to read, especially in romance. I look forward to seeing everyone there!
Me: Thanks, Jennifer! I appreciate the opportunity for Breezers to get to know you a little bit better. Can’t wait for this WIK conference this year, folks.
Check out her website: http://www.jennifer-echols.com
WIK is a great place to get inspired, get tips on your craft, and learn about the business of children’s publishing. It’s also an opportunity to meet editors, agents, and a wonderful network of working writers and artists.
To find out more or to register, visit https://southern-breeze.net
You can meet other members of the conference faculty by following the WIK blog tour:
Aug. 28 Author Matt de la Peña at Stephanie Moody’s Moodyviews:
(Look under heading: Rants, Raves and Kid Lit Bits)
Editor Lou Anders at F.T. Bradley’s YA Sleuth:
Aug. 29 Author Doraine Bennett at Jodi Wheeler-Toppen’s Once Upon
a Science Book: http://onceuponasciencebook.com/news/
Author Robyn Hood Black at Donny Seagraves’ blog:
Aug. 30 MFA program director Amanda Cockrell at Elizabeth Dulemba’s:
Illustrator Prescott Hill at Gregory Christie’s
G.A.S. : http://www.gas-art.com/
Aug. 31 Author Heather Montgomery at Claire Datnow’s Media Mint
Editor Michelle Poploff at Laura Golden’s Just Write:
Sept. 3 Author Nancy Raines Day at Laurel Snyder’s blog:
Author Jennifer Echols at Paula Puckett’s blog Random
Thoughts from the Creative Path: https://paulabpuckett.wordpress.com/
Sept. 4 Editor Dianne Hamilton at Ramey Channell’s The Painted
Author Janice Hardy at Tracey M. Cox’s A Writer’s Blog:
Sept. 5 Author / illustrator Sarah Frances Hardy at Stephanie
(Look under heading: Rants, Raves and Kid Lit Bits)
Agent Sally Apokedak at Cheryl Sloan Wray’s Writing
with Cheryl: http://writingwithcheryl.wordpress.com/
Sept. 6 Agent Jennifer Rofe at Cathy Hall’s Blog: http://c-c-hall.com/
Author / illustrator Chris Rumble at Cyrus Webb
(If these links aren’t working, please try to hold the Control key and click at the same time. Thanks!)