Ask an Author: Pamela Love
Pamela Love is a children’s magazine and book author whose goal is to create the stories she wanted to read as a child. Her recent published books include A Loon Alone; A Cub Explores; A Moose’s Morning; Lighthouse Seeds; Two Feet Up, Two Feet Down; and Brigid and the Butter: A Legend about Saint Brigid of Ireland. Her stories, poems, and plays for older children have appeared in Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, Highlights for Children, and Jack and Jill magazines. Her latest book Staircase for the Sisters comes out in August 2018.
Connect with her in the following ways...
Amazon Author page: amazon.com/Pamela-Love/e/B001HMMF1W
Goodreads Author page: goodreads.com/author/show/661197.Pamela_Love?from_search=true
1. What is your process for finding and choosing a good story to tell?
I start by seeing which subjects are requested by the markets (usually magazines) for which I write. These might be anything from a certain holiday to a broader topic like animals. Then I brainstorm ideas, often looking for a somewhat unusual or quirky angle for my story or poem. For example, in “The Return” (Spider magazine, March 2015), I write about a special bird in the springtime: an ostrich! And whenever possible, I like to “start” by finding the ending, and working my way backward to see how that might occur logically. For example, I noticed that a toothpick would the right size for a fairy’s magic wand. I often use a toothpick to test whether a cake I’ve baked is done. And of course, children make wishes when blowing out birthday cake candles. From that came my story “Wishin’ Impossible” (Cricket magazine March 2017).
2. Do you use any outside help to find good ideas like music, the world around you, kids you or situation you know, a good book or movie, or a weird dream?
My own experiences often jumpstart the stories I write. My in-laws used to have a pet peacock, and I was amazed at how loud it was. That helped inspire “The Pirates and the Peacock,” to appear in the September 2018 issue of Spider magazine. Books and magazines are another important source. Even a photo can spark a story. I wrote “The Best Splash” (Ladybug magazine March 2018) after seeing a picture of a spider’s web covered with dew.
3. How do you determine the age of your audience? Or how would you change a story from a story for older kids to one for younger ages?
I’ve read and written for many different age groups, so by now it’s just something I recognize. However, several of my poems have been published in a magazine for older readers, rather than the one I originally submitted it to.
4. How do you know when a story is “done”?
After I decide the plot holds together and I can’t spot any obvious errors, I’ll have a beta reader go over it. Next, I’ll make changes (sometimes) based on his or her comments. Then I read it out loud, to get a sense of how it sounds, listening for grammatical errors or awkward wording. I do this several times. When it sounds right, I send it in.
5. What is your favorite medium in the kid lit world, and why do you think kids love it?
I enjoy stories with a twist, and fantasy seems to have the best opportunities to include them. Young readers enjoy the unexpected as much as I do.
6. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to yourself as a new writer?
Simplify your plots. A twist can be unexpected, even fantastical, and still make sense.
7. What websites blogs, or books would you recommend to a new writer?
Fiction University, which is a blog by Janice Hardy: blog.janicehardy.com My favorite book about revising is Sandy Asher’s Writing It Right! How Successful Children’s Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories.
8. You’re a shapeshifter now! If you could turn into any animal, what would it be?
A sea serpent. There’s one in my work in progress and the experience would help me with her point of view.