Friday, June 20, 2014

Interview With Debra Daugherty

Debra wrapped in red.
Debra Daugherty is one of the many wonderful people I've had the chance to meet in my time in the SCBWI. Her blog is fun to read and talks about her journey as a writer. Her blog also contains great resources for writers in both her text and in the links. She has also has a lovely kid's blog (Kids Korner 2014) for all the young ones who want to know more about Debra! She has been published in the ezine "Guardian Angel Kids".

 Her book the Pastry Princess can be found here. Debra is the author of Calamity Cat, an eBook about a crazy cat and his girl Callie. The illustrations (done by Lucy Mara) are fantastic! You can find Debra's website here:

Dani: Which books did you love as a kid?

"My dog Honey. I rescued the shyest dog in the pound.
Honey sleeps at my feet when I write;
 and when most writers listen to music as they work,
I listen to the sound of Honey snoring."
Debra: The first books I remember are the ones by Dr. Seuss. My mother ordered them by mail, and as soon as one arrived, I would start reading it over and over. “The Cat in the Hat” always cracked me up. When older, I loved reading “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. The idea of my wanting to be a writer came from the character Jo in the story. She was a writer; I wanted to be one, too. I also loved getting lost with “Alice in Wonderland”. What a wonderful, magical place! I read so many books growing up; I just can’t mention them all. My family would actually get upset with me because I always had a book in my hand.

Dani: Apples or Oranges?

Debra: Bananas. The last time I bit into an apple, I had to go to the dentist to have a tooth pulled. So much for the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Oranges are too messy. First you have to peel away the skin, and then when you bite into the orange slice, juice squirts in your eye. I prefer bananas, and I eat at least four a week. I still eat apples, but only in pie, and as for my vitamin C, I prefer it in liquid form.

Dani: When did you start your writing journey?

Debra: As I mentioned before, Jo March in “Little Women” gave me the idea that I could write, but I didn't put this idea into focus until middle grade. My school had a newspaper and several of my stories and poems were published in it. Also, my eighth grade teacher encouraged me to write. It helps when someone believes you can do something. You start believing it, too. Over the years I kept writing, mostly for myself. It wasn't until I joined SCBWI that I seriously started putting myself out there. Attending conferences and joining a writers group taught me what I was doing wrong and what I needed to be doing to become published. Also, the encouragement from my writers group has spurred me on to keep trying, to not give up.

Dani: What was it that drew you to write for the online e-zine “Guardian Angel Kids?”

Debra: I read about this e-zine either in Children’s Writers or on a website and checked them out. I immediately liked what I saw. Mary Sue Roberts does an excellent job publishing and editing this magazine. Each issue has a theme; bullying, special kids, mystery, etc. Under submissions I saw the deadline to submit for the August, 2013 issue on aviation was close. I remember as a child swinging in my backyard and watching the planes pass over head. Like Mikayla in my story, I kept swinging higher and higher until I felt like I was flying. I sat down at my PC and wrote “Let Your Imagination Soar!” and submitted it that day. I was both thrilled and amazed when it was accepted.

Dani: Tell us about your new book “Calamity Cat”.

Debra: “Calamity Cat” is about a cat that is always making messes, knocking over a glass of milk and causing havoc in the laundry room and bathroom. His owner is a little girl named Callie, and Callie’s mother tells her if Calamity keeps making messes, he will have to go. I won’t give away the ending. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens.

This is how “Calamity Cat” came to be. At my writers’ group meeting in January, 2013, one of the members, Louanne Brown, mentioned something about February being Picture Book month and writing a Picture Book a day. I love challenges. Every day in February I spent 1-2 hours writing a PB, keeping my word count under 1,000. Some days were a struggle to come up with an idea, but I did it. I had 28 stories! In March I learned about MeeGenius, an online publisher of e-books. I debated whether to send in one of my stories right away or wait until their MeeGenius Author Challenge where they pay a winning author $1,000.00 and give them a contract. I decided to submit and not wait for their contest, and sent in my Day 18th PB, “Calamity Cat”. By the end of April, I had a contract, and by December of that year, it was published on their website. Lucy Mara was hired to do the illustrations and I was pleased at how the book turned out.

Dani: What are some of the pitfalls you had in writing “Calamity Cat”?

Debra: I’m almost embarrassed to admit, I had none. I wrote it in a couple of hours, did a small amount of editing, and submitted it. I was so surprised when it was accepted. Even the editing on it after that was not much, I just needed to add a comma or two and make a contraction from two words. I know this is not the norm, and consider myself very lucky. Believe me, I know the struggles of being a writer, I have a file drawer filled with rejections. “Calamity Cat” turned out to be an exception.

Dani: Do you have any advice for writers struggling to get their manuscripts published?

Debra: Don’t give up. Keep writing, if it’s only notes in a journal. Read books in the genre you write, attend writers’ conferences, and join the SCBWI or a writers group. Read other writers blogs, like Dani’s, and learn from them. When you submit, first find out all you can about the agent or publisher and see if your story fits their criteria. Follow their guidelines and then submit your best work, and don’t be discouraged when rejections come. My writers group celebrate rejections because they show we are trying, we are putting our work out there. Remember, the best and most famous writers in the world have all received rejections.

Also, check out the MeeGenius website, as they are preparing to offer another Author’s Challenge. Send in your PB, and you could become the newest MeeGenius author. Good luck!

Dani, thank you for this opportunity, I greatly enjoyed doing this interview.


Debra Daugherty

Find out more about Debra:

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