Transcripts

"Cross-Over Writing" with Kathryn Jensen Pearce

Thursday, September 20, 2001

Moderator is Kristi Holl, author of 24 books and 150 articles, a former writing teacher, and the web editor for this site.

Kathryn is Kathryn Jensen Pearce, author of 40 published novels. She writes as Kathryn Jensen for adults, as K.M. Kimball and Nicole Davidson for children. This month, Simon & Schuster published her historical novel for children, The Star-Spangled Secret, set during the War of 1812.

Names color coded in blue are viewers who asked questions.

Moderator: Kathryn, can you give us an overview of your published work, the various genres and age groups for which you've published?

Kathryn: Prepare yourself to be utterly confused! Although I would have published everything I wrote under my own name and concentrated on one type of writing, circumstances dictated that I split my time between several types of writing and several pen names. So here is where I am now

I have sold a total of 40 novels to various publishers over the years. About half have been for young readers (one picture book, several middle-grade novels, and 16 Young-adult novels), and the other half have been for adult readers. Because I feel strongly that the subject matter, wording, and slant of many adult novels are not suitable reading for children, I chose early in my career to continue writing for adults as Kathryn Jensen (my legal name at the time) and selected a pen name for my children's books. I used my own children's names to form a pseudonym, Nicole Davidson. (Not hard to figure out how many kids I have and their gender!)

That arrangement worked fine for a good while. Then Avon, the publisher of my Nicole Davidson mysteries, changed their publishing plans and decided not to continue doing that type of book, so I stopped writing for them after a dozen books. Only recently did I sell a concept for a middle-grade novel to Simon & Schuster, called THE STAR-SPANGLED SECRET. The editor requested a pen name and felt they didn't want to use my former one borrowed from Avon because the book was very different from those titles. So I agreed to use yet another name that could be identified with a historical mystery written for 9-13 year olds: K.M. Kimball, which is actually my maiden name. In short, most of my writing has been book-length fiction, although it spans all ages of readers. I've published books with Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Silhouette (adult romances), Ballantine, Scholastic, Pocket and Avon Books.

Moderator: Were you successful in publishing in the children's market or adult market first?

Kathryn: They both seemed to happen around the same time, but only after twelve years of writing furiously. I did a lot of regional articles and short writing jobs. Then my first children's novel, POCKET CHANGE (a YA for Macmillan) sold within a year of my first adult novel, SELECT CIRCLES (Ballantine). Both are long out of print and I doubt they could be found anywhere but in a few libraries, but they were my first published books, other than a coloring book and a picture book that was a movie tie-in job.

Moderator: How are the writing skills and requirements the same for both markets?

Kathryn: There are so many ways the adult and children's market are alike. Both need strong characters, good plotting, vivid setting details, and require research (yes, even fiction requires that dreaded word, research!)

Moderator: How are they different?

Kathryn: I think the main differences for me are rather subtle. Take each of the main elements of a story. Characters--for kids you want a child's POV, not an adult's, and more kids in the story than grownups. Plotit must be a story that is of interest to young readers; adults want adult themes and kids want their concerns represented. Setting--adults may enjoy a background involving an interesting career or glamorous vacation spot, whereas kids love adventures set in school, neighborhoods similar to their own, or involving families not unlike theirs but a hundred years in the past or a hundred in the future. As adults we can more easily imagine what might interest other adults. When writing for children, we have to put ourselves in the reader's mindset and choose elements of the story that young readers will enjoy.

Moderator: Can the same events and ideas be tailored to fit both children's and adult markets?

Kathryn: Absolutely! I wrote POCKET CHANGE based on a teenager's view of the Vietnam War in its wake, as she viewed the affects of the conflict on her father, a Vietnam vet. But I had a great deal of research I couldn't use in that book. So I recycled the research and added some to it, and wrote an adult novel called SING TO ME, SAIGON, which sold to Pocket Books and prompted them to ask for a two-book contract. You can write about serious or light topics from either an adult or child's perspective, but you must tailor the concept to suit your audience's reading level and ability to understand the scenes you're presenting.

Moderator: What topics allow you the most flexibility in this area?

Kathryn: I haven't felt that I've been limited in my ability to tackle any topic that I wanted to write about. But I suppose the most flexible areas would be family and neighborhood relationships. Those are part of everyone's life, no matter their age or geographical location.

Moderator: I know that you write under different names for your adult and children's writing. Why is that? Is this a must, or can you use the same byline writing in both markets?

Kathryn: Well, as I've already explained, my pen names were a result of specific needs. But for many writers there isn't a necessity for using a pseudonym. If all you write is nonfiction for adults, why confuse folks by using a pen name? It makes it more difficult for people to find you with writing jobs, and it makes publicizing yourself and your work more complicated. If I hadn't more or less felt forced into using alternate names, I'd never have done it.

Of course, some people prefer to remain anonymous for one reason or another. Say, an author works in an office where writing Westerns or romances or some other type of fiction might be looked on with disfavor, might actually result in their not receiving an important promotion. Then that author might choose a pen name to protect their professional position. Sometimes families aren't as supportive of writing as they should be. I know of authors who write under an alternate name because their spouse or parents disapprove. I think this is a terrible shame, and can't understand this sort of attitude, but it does happen. For many years when I was struggling to become published, there were people in my life who told me I was wasting my time by writing. They told me it was impossible for me to ever get a book published and used every sort of argument to dissuade me. But, happily, I ignored them and kept on trying. I believe anyone who truly wants to write for publication can do it. It does take perseverance though.

Moderator: Do you think a children's writer can successfully write for the adult markets, or vice versa?

Kathryn: Again, absolutely! I have done it for years, and I see no reason why a person who wants to be active in both fields can't do it. Never label or limit yourself. You're not a children's writer--you're a writer. Period. You can write anything if you put your mind to it. Well I guess there are some types of technical writing that would be difficult, having no concept of chemistry, mechanical engineering and such. But fiction of all sorts is wonderfully open to all writers. And nonfiction for the popular reading market is just as accessible.

Janice: I write for children now, but am very interested in writing for adults. Is there a bigger demand for fiction or nonfiction in adult magazine writing? And is personal experience-type writing salable (because I hate to do research)?

Kathryn: First, I'd say that short fiction is a more difficult sale these days than articles (nonfiction). But this is just what I hear from other writers. I don't write a lot of short pieces these days. Most of what I do is 35,000 words and up. But I think that there are some good genre markets, for instance, for mysteries and science fiction. So if you really prefer fiction, I'd stick with it. Someone has to be publishing with these magazines, it might as well be you!

Secondly, sure personal-experience articles continue to sell. But that doesn't mean you duck out of doing research. People want to read insights of people in the news or spectacular writing from anyone. If you aren't a celebrity of some kind and you don't write Pulitzer Prize material, my feeling is you're going to be hard pressed to sell your opinion unless you do a little research and present something special to an editor. I don't think my writing is particularly spectacular, and I haven't anything special to offer in the way of personal experience. So I go the research route. You say you HATE to do research? Well, don't research stuff you find boring. Research topics you're curious about. Writers have a license to be nosy. Visit a zoo and interview a lion keeper to see what their day at work is like. Call a deep sea diving instructor and pick his brain for ideas for an underwater adventure. I wanted to use a search canine for a YA story, and I arranged to visit the local police station where they train their drug dogs, and they introduced me to several dogs, demonstrated their training and work routines, and answered every possible question I could ask. Readers loved the realism of the story and I had a really fun day. And that's what good research is all about!

Scott2001: Is it necessary to take courses specifically in adult or children's writing to be a successful cross-over writer? Or can a "general" writing course serve for both?

Kathryn: No. Once you get your fiction or nonfiction writing basics down, you can transfer those skills to writing for a younger or older audience. This is what I did. I learned how to write for children, then I read tons of adult novels, selecting those writers I thought did the best job. I studied their techniques and discovered ways to tailor my writing style to an adult audience. You can do it the other way around too. Learn to write for adults, then study children's material as it's published by the leaders in the field. Once you feel you're producing material that might be competitive with what you see being published now, dive into market guides for submission information.

Moderator: Can a writer write for both markets at the same time, or is switching back and forth during the day too much of an adjustment?

Kathryn: Yes and yes. You certainly can write for both markets, but "at the same time" doesn't necessarily mean that I write in the morning for children and in the afternoon for adults. I generally choose to be working on one project at a time for at least a few days running. Then I shift gears when necessity demands I pay attention to something else on my plate.

For instance, I recently got an offer to do a second historical mystery for Simon & Schuster. But the editor needs it done quickly because she suddenly has an opening for a book next summer. So I know I have to complete the novel within the next few months which will enable her to make her editing deadlines. This will be a follow-up book to THE STAR-SPANGLED SECRET which came out just this month. I had three chapters and an outline written when she made the offer, so I'll be writing at least three or four days a week on this book for kids, right up until Christmas, plus keeping up with my writing students' correspondence. However, my editor at Silhouette is anxious for me to complete a proposal we discussed yesterday. If I can get her three chapters and a plot outline in the next month, and if she is given approval on the story from her boss, I could have a contract for a new adult novel lined up before the end of the year, which means better financial stability for me in the coming months. So the days when I'm taking a short break from my children's book, I'll be writing the adult material. I also have to keep in mind that during the next few months I'll probably receive the page proofs of another book that Silhouette is publishing in February. So, although some writers can concentrate on one project at a time, I find that I need to remain flexible and alter my focus as new opportunities arise.

Moderator: Several mentioned that they'd like to keep writing for children, but also add adult nonfiction to their repertoire. What topics do you find sell well?

Kathryn: Frankly, the only nonfiction topics I've been tackling lately are how-to articles on writing. I find that I have little extra time for articles, but then that's okay with me because I'm pretty much a creature of the fiction market. If I were writing articles now, I think I'd be looking to do patriotic pieces or articles providing comfort and suggestions for family and neighborhood solidarity. Profiles of rescue workers or stories about either survivors or those lost would also be appealing to me. And I certainly would be tempted to get in touch with local rescue dog handlers who flew to New York City to aid in the rescue attempts there. I'd love to learn how their dogs performed and what the handlers felt as they worked. So, if anyone out there wants to take some of these ideas and run with them, be my guest!

JaciRae: I am intimidated by the adult nonfiction markets. The articles all seem so heavily researched that I'm afraid to tackle one. I don't know any real experts to interview, for example.

Kathryn: JaciRae, what interests you? What gets you excited or curious? As I've mentioned above, don't force yourself to research topics you find intimidating or boring. Choose something fun, make research an adventure. As the Holidays approach and women everywhere are trying to figure out how to fit shopping time into their busy schedules, maybe you could do a piece on how to find a "personal shopper". Many department stores offer them. Wouldn't it be fun to call up one of these stores at your local mall, tell them you're doing an article on the joys of using a personal shopper, and ask if you could meet with and interview at least one of the people on their staff? These are the kind of experts you need for an article of this sort. If you're doing a medical article, start by reading just what you need to get your basics down, then contact the Red Cross or your local hospital's public relations office and ask for help finding medical specialists to answer your questions. Call a university and find out who has a background in archeology for a piece on a real-life Indiana Jones. If you're not having fun writing your articles, what point is there in doing them? But if you are intrigued and enjoying the research and writing process, your readers will pick up on your enthusiasm. And that includes editors reading your submissions.

Moderator: How do you do all the research needed for adult articles and stories?

Kathryn: I guess by now you sort of get the picture. I read what I need to, so that I at least know what questions to ask. Then I go out and find the pros. In researching the War of 1812 for THE STAR-SPANGLED SECRET, I spoke with National Park Service guides at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, not far from my home. I also interviewed re-enactors, both men and women, who dress and act out the roles of people who lived during various historical periods. They aren't professional historians, but they are wonderfully knowledgeable when it comes to the details of daily life during their time periods.

Stefanie: Is it ever possible to spin off an adult article or short story from a children's piece that I've published? I often think I'd like to try, but I don't know if it would work.

Kathryn: This is an excellent idea and, yes, it does work. As I've already mentioned, at least one of my novels was inspired and fed by the children's book I'd just finished writing. You'll find you accumulate much more research than you need for a children's piece, then take another look at what you have and decide how you might use it on an adult level. A children's short story about a missing lunch box might inspire an adult short story about a teacher who must deal with theft in her school. Or it could result in an article on discipline in today's schools. I think it's important to always look through the eyes of your audience, Stefanie. If you are a child, having something to eat for lunch and being able to trust your classmates are important issues. If you're an adult and a teacher, maintaining order in your classroom and teaching children to respect each other's property are two issues that you'll be interested in reading about. Recycling your material in either direction from children's material to adult topics, or vice versa, is one way to maximize your writing production and increase your potential for sales. The other way is to work in both fiction and nonfiction. Some writers do this until they find their niche and then specialize in one or the other. Other writers do both all of their professional lives. It's really a matter of whatever works for you.

Lulu: To write for adult magazines using an incident I wrote about for adults, can I just change the viewpoint? (For example, the adult story was about a single mom who lost her job. Can I rewrite the incident for children's magazines, telling the story from the child's viewpoint?)

Kathryn: Another great idea, Lulu. But you may need to also adjust other elements of the story. Along with POV, you might want to alter the tone and word choice somewhat, making the story more easily read and understood by young readers. Children's stories often times need to emphasize emotions more obviously than adult material. We look at some adult fiction and might say it sounds too much like a soap opera if the characters are always running around in hysteria. But teenage fiction frequently feels as if it's pumped full of wild emotion, nearly every scene something terribly dramatic is happening. That's because this is the way teens see life. Everything is an emergency! Even choosing the perfect dress to wear to school is critical. Younger children also need emotion, but on their own level of experience. A very young child will react to Mom's loss of a job with little understanding or feeling, until he sees his mother sobbing in the kitchen. Then his whole world will come crashing down because Mom represents stability, his protection from a frightening world. If she goes to pieces, what will happen to him? And so then he becomes terribly worried too. I think the key for you will be to determine the age of your reader, then write according to that child's level of experience.

Moderator: I'm a fairly successful children's writer, but when I approach editors of adult magazine markets they don't even look at my stuff. How can I get my foot in the door?

Kathryn: This is a tough one. I have little recent experience with magazine editors. But I think I understand the problem as I have similar problems when I approach editors of adult book-length fiction, particularly those editors who feel they only handle "serious" fiction. (It's amazing this attitude that romances, mysteries, and other commercial fiction aren't considered on an equal footing with literary fiction, even though some so-called literary fiction is very poorly written!) Be that as it may, you might try (if you haven't already) putting a spin on your writing credits and only selectively mentioning your published work. If you suspect that a long list of children's magazine and book titles is only convincing editors to label you as a "children's writer" and incapable of anything different, then just mention publishers (not necessarily titles) you've worked with when they have adult divisions. I don't think this is being dishonest at all. Let them look at your adult proposals with an open mind, then if they want more information about what you've published, fine after you've got them hooked. For instance, I could say that "I've published 40 books with publishers that include Avon, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster." As it turns out, all of these novels were written for children. But I don't need to say that going in. I suppose the names of magazines are more of a giveaway, though. And there's not much way of getting around them. Another option would be to write under a pen name, submit yourself or see if you can work through an agent who is willing to submit your work as a "new and promising" writer, and forget about listing credits. Other than these two methods, I think it's difficult to come up with a way to "blindside" editors who have their minds set against a writer who has previously published for children. I think they're missing out on some wonderful material!

TuffStuff: What are some specific differences in writing for adults as opposed to writing for children? Story and article word lengths? Vocabulary? Themes? Subject matter?

Kathryn: Another difficult question, since entire books have been written on the subject, TuffStuff. But here are the basics as I see them. Short stories for children will of course be shorter and simpler than those written for adults. You have to check your market guide for specific lengths, though. Some adult markets may limit to 2,000 words whereas a teen magazine might be accepting material up to 5,000 words. It's crucial to consult listings for each magazine. Plots for children's material will be less involved and will involve issues of importance to children. Themes, too, reflect different interests. Whereas a child might view the issue of cheating on a test as how it affects him on that particular day, the adult will view it in the context of how the experience might shape the child's entire life. Time frames of stories will be hours or days for kids' stories, but may take place over months or even years for adults. I keep my sentences simple and try not to use over-elaborate words for children's stories. I might write about a father's self-doubt and suicidal thoughts/attempts for adults, but I wouldn't write about this topic for a reader of five years old. In general, keeping stories and articles simpler and geared to a child's understanding is the key to the difference in writing for children and adults.

Moderator: Would it be worth the time and money for me to go to a writers' conference that focuses on the adult markets?

Kathryn: Certainly, if you're interested in writing for adults. You'll likely find publishers and editors as well as other writers of adult material at a conference specifically designed for this market.

Moderator: If you're wanting to cross over, what should a writer focus on at a conference? Networking? Finding an agent? Meeting the editors? Manuscript critique?

Kathryn: That depends upon where you are with your writing. If you're only as far as thinking about writing a short story or a novel or article, then you go to soak up general information and some basic techniques. You sit in and listen to panels and network with other writers who may have had more experience than you. If you have a portfolio of articles or stories ready for submission, you try to meet with editors or do a ms. critique. If you have a book that's complete and ready to market, you might want to connect with agents and see if any are interested in representing you. Then you could offer to send them a copy of your book for review. You first need to have something to offer an editor or agent. They won't want to discuss possibilities with you that's just too vague and not at all effective use of time for them.

SaraJ: Do you have a family that you get ideas from? My kids give me so many ideas, but I'm never sure just what to do with them.

Kathryn: My family is grown, but I do have a five year old granddaughter who is a wealth of inspiration. I also get a lot of ideas from cruising the local malls and talking with children or adults in my neighborhood or when traveling.

Moderator: New York City is obviously the publishing Mecca for adult fiction and nonfiction. How can children's writers living in small towns find out what editors are looking for? Can they approach them professionally so they won't think they're from the sticks?

Kathryn: With e-mail, fax machines, the telephone, and other modern conveniences of communication, you don't have to live in NY or LA to be seriously considered as a writer. Editors are accustomed to working with writers all around the world, and do so regularly. I know editors who work regularly with writers who live in Minneapolis, rural Oklahoma, Australia and Alaska and many have never met their authors face to face. The key is strong writing. A good editor will want to work with you, and won't care where you live as long as you make your deadlines.

LindaCC: I'd love to write short stories for literary markets, but my only publications thus far have been short nonfiction articles for the children's markets. Will mentioning this to the editor in a query or cover letter help me or hurt me?

Kathryn: I'd try both methods. If you feel you're not getting a fair read due to mentioning your children's publishing credits, don't mention them in some cover/query letters. Let the material you're sending speak for itself. Just deliver your very best material in a professional manner.

Moderator: I've heard that an agent is a must if you want to write for adults. Is this true, and if so, how do I get one?

Kathryn: As I've said above, you must first have something to offer an agent. I do think it's a distinct advantage, having an agent. But most agents aren't interested in representing an author who only writes short stories and articles because there's no money (or too little) in it for them. If you intend to write a book, then you must first write it then start approaching agents at conferences or through the mail. Those that want to see your book, send it along. A serious agent will be willing to represent those books he/she finds promising and personally appealing, but will not ask for reading fees or marketing fees up front. These should come off of the sales of your book.

Moderator: Do you need an agent for children's writing now? Can the same agent handle both kinds of writing?

Kathryn: It's still not necessary, but can be helpful. If you do find a good agent, they can smooth the way toward quicker and better contracts. Most agents don't seem to like to handle both children's and adult material. I'm not sure why.

Kevin: Is marketing adult writing different from marketing children's writing, or are the steps the same?

Kathryn: I do find the steps very similar. If you have learned how to submit one type of writing, you'll do fine with the other.

Moderator: The following are grouped together because they dealt specifically with the current American crisis.

SaraJ: If you want to write about the attack on the WTC or Pentagon, is it better to stick to nonfiction (for adults and/or for children)? Is it better to fictionalize it for children?

Kathryn: I don't think there is a better way, Sara. I think it will depend upon your abilities and preference. I would use fiction, but that's my medium. Children can understand and will appreciate simple, direct writing even about difficult subjects. Adults will probably read any of a variety of writings on this most tragic subject, hoping to better understand what has happened. I expect to see a flood of articles, novels, and nonfiction treatments of the subject but fewer short stories, as I think this would be more difficult as a means of dealing with the issues at hand.

Johnson22: Famous writers will probably be writing volumes about the attack on America, both for children and for adults. Do new writers have any chance competing with seasoned writers, either for children or adults?

Kathryn: I suppose a handful of "names" in the publishing industry will be favored over the rest of us, but I expect strong writing from a new writer will be given the advantage over a known writer who dashes off something that's less well thought out or constructed. The advantage a seasoned professional has over new writers is in speed. An experienced writer will sit right down and draft a proposal within a few days or weeks, send it out to publishers and hope for a commitment to a book or article as he/she continues writing. The finished product will be in the hands of an editor before most beginning writers have their working outline drafted. If editors contract with writers to buy books in the final months of this year and have those books complete soon after the first of the year or no later than this summer they won't be interested in other books that filter through to them two, three or five years later. It's too late then, and most new writers haven't yet disciplined themselves to getting down to work, getting their research in place and writing quickly. If, on the other hand, Johnson, you have something to show an editor fairly quickly, be it a magazine article or a novel, or anything else that addresses the attack on America, and it's well written, you'll have a fair chance of selling your work. Editors desperately need good writers, and they'll work with anyone who offers them a professional product in a timely manner.

Kevin: Do you think a new writer could write about the attacks by focusing on our local heroes, or fund raisers, or profiles of families who lost people in the attack? Would only the local papers be interested, or do you think children's and adult magazines would be interested in local heroes?

Kathryn: This is a marvelous angle, Kevin. It's focused and doesn't rely on personal opinion, which we've all heard plenty of in the past week-plus. Interviewing or profiling local heroes, creative fund raisers, families of victims these are all worthwhile topics that will draw many readers. And I don't think you have to stick to local/regional publications either. America is at an all-time high as far as a feeling of unity. Californians are just as shaken as people in Connecticut or Washington, D.C., or New York. And human interest stories of this sort will appeal to readers across the country.

Bonnie: Is there a market (and if so how small is it) for adult picture books? I'm thinking along the lines of a sentimental type book that a bride would give to her father or vice versa.

Kathryn: This is a very creative idea, and I like it. There have been a form of adult picture book for a long time, but in a comic book format. These range from just nutty humor to rather racy material. And there are photo essay books, which might be closer to what you're imagining for your project. I suppose the publisher could produce nostalgic photographs of a little girl and her dad, or trace events of a young woman's life through pictures and then the writer could add in verse or little essays about growing up with her dad's loving support. I can't point you toward specific publishers, though, as this is an area I haven't been involved in. If I were interested in this sort of project, I'd start by spending some time in one of the large bookstores--Barnes & Noble or Border's near me--and with the help of one of the booksellers look for any similar books. The topic doesn't have to be the same; you're looking for similar styles and formats. Once I have found a stack of such books, I'd jot down the publishers and any other information I can find that might help me with the marketing. Sometimes writers dedicate a book to their agent or their editor, and that's something you can use. Knowing an editor who enjoys this sort of book might give you a very specific lead for marketing your own project. The key is to find books that have been done which have some similar elements, even though yours will be one of a kind. As bridal magazines, planning guides, and how-to books about weddings tend to do quite well, I'd guess you might have a healthy buying public out there for a book of the sort you describe!

Richard: I would like to write a novel where the protagonist (the one telling the story) is "the bad guy" and the antagonist is "the good guy"--my plot requires it. Are you familiar with any successful novels (especially mysteries) that have been written that way? Their names? Thanks.

Kathryn: Gee, this is a good question. I think it would be very interesting, and challenging to write this sort of story. Sort of like telling a Sherlock Holmes story through the eyes of his sworn enemy, Professor Moriarity. Cool! But as I try to think of mysteries and other novels I've read along these lines, with the Protagonist being the "bad guy". I really can't come up with any titles, or even a memory of one example. The thing is, as readers, most of us want to identify with the side of good over evil. So we'd prefer to read about the hero/heroine's thoughts and struggles to overcome their difficulties. We rarely cheer on the bad guy. So telling the story from the POV of the villain, as it were, from opening scenes to climax, would seem to not be a good idea. However, there are tons of thrillers, mysteries, and other stories in which the author uses either a controlled, multiple perspective or omniscient POV in developing the plot.

One of my favorite authors has always been Ken Follett. He has written numerous novels, starting with Eye of the Needle, in which we have quite extended scenes related through the villain's POV. But then we move back to the heroine, or to the guy who's chasing the villain, or some other character. So it's not all a single view of the action. In EOTN, Follett has a wonderful villain, and he's quite a sympathetic character in many ways, but he's also deadly and, if he's successful in carrying out his plan, he could well turn the tide of WWII and enable the Germans to defeat the British, at least, and possibly even the Allies as a whole. So I guess my advice would be, yes, use the bad guy's perspective in a novel, because it adds depth and tension, but don't try to tell the whole story through his POV because the reader may not feel compelled to stick with you to the end. If we don't identify with the lead characters and want to see things turn out well for them, we tend to put down the book.

A final word to all those listening in/reading this chat I don't profess to know everything about getting published. At best, this is an exciting business, but it's not without risk. Most writers I know work very hard at what they do, and they received their share of rejections along the way. To this day, I feel that if, for every five book concepts I propose, I can sell one or twoI'm still doing well. This is another way of saying, I accept that fact that three or four books of every five I want to write will be turned down. It's just the way it is. THE STAR-SPANGLED SECRET was rejected by seven publishers before Simon & Schuster bought it, and I'm very proud of that book. Sales and level of interest seem to be high. Why was it rejected? Who knows. The important thing is to get your work out there so that it can be seen. Give it a chance, and then trust in little miracles. Best wished for all your own writing projects.

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