Coffee & Conversation with Sandy Asher!

Happy Tuesday, everyone! 

Today I’m starting our pre-Roads To Publication Conference getting-to-know-you’s by having one of our speakers, the lovely Sandy Asher, joining us in the cyber cafe! She is the author of several picture books including HERE COMES GOSLING, TOO MANY FROGS, and WRITING IT RIGHT: How Successful Children’s Authors Perfect and Sell Their Stories.

~Rabbit lives alone and likes it that way. One stormy night, Froggie arrives on Rabbit’s doorstep–and returns again and again, filling Rabbit’s house with snacks, pillows, and dozens of cousins. Too much fuss! Too much clutter! Too many frogs! But Rabbit loves to read–and Froggie loves to listen!~

~Froggie and Rabbit are back, and they’re getting ready to meet Gander and Goose’s new baby, Gosling. Froggie can’t wait. He loves new babies. But this one won’t stop honking–LOUDLY!–and no one can comfort her. At last, Froggie’s natural charm and exuberance turn Gosling’s tears into smiles.~

~A guide to the revision process for adults who write for children, for writing teachers at all levels, and for young readers who want to find out how authors rethink and revise their work. Both well-known and first-time authors reveal their process of making good ideas worthy of publication.~

And while Sandy settles in with her favorite coffeehouse beverage, regular coffee with milk or cream, (although Peet’s Dark Chocolate Mocha Frozen Fredo once restored her will to live during a 12-hour layover in the San Francisco airport) . . .


. . . and her favorite snack, chocolate ice cream, preferably dark, (but if it happens to be laced with pieces of brownie, that’s okay, too) . . .

. . . let me throw out a quick reminder that our next fabulous ABC Event will feature regional SCBWI member Amie Rose Rotruck, author of BRONZE DRAGON CODEX, and A YOUNG WIZARDS HANDBOOK: How to Trap a Zombie, Track a Vampire, and Other Hands-On Activities for Monster Hunters

This ABC Event will be  held on October 19, 2011  at the Mount Airy Branch Library (705 Ridge Rd. Mount Airy, MD 21771) from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. The event is free, but please RSVP to Naomi Milliner at See you there!

And now that Sandy is ready, let’s get started with the first question!  First off, when did you decide to be a writer?

Possibly in second grade, when I started writing plays.  But definitely after reading LITTLE WOMEN, somewhere in the upper elementary years.


How long did your path to your first book sale take, and what were your biggest hurdles?

Ten years, 17 rejections.  I was my own biggest hurdle.  I didn’t know how to plot a novel, I didn’t realize I was born to write for young readers, not adults, and I thought I was astrologically destined for greatness.  I share a birthday with Oscar Wilde and Eugene O’Neill.  Ten years of rejection will humble one, at least this one.

Seeing as how hindsight is 20/20, what advice for beginners do you wish you would’ve followed?

“Writing is rewriting.”  Don’t know who first said this.  I wasn’t listening.

 So true! And I did a Goggle search for you, Sandy, and discovered that the quote is from the brilliant E.B. White. Nice!

Okay, then, what’s your favorite writing how-to book?

Be it never so humble, I’d have to say WRITING IT RIGHT, because the authors I invited to join me were so incredibly generous in sharing their early drafts and trials and tribulations on the way to publication, the behind-the-scenes stuff you just don’t get to see with published work.


Where’s your favorite place to work? 

It used to be in my office on the third floor of our townhouse, but it gets either too hot or too cold up there, so I’ve been using a desk in the guest room on the second floor.  I also get a great deal of work done in hotels and airports and on planes.

 How were you inspired to write your current or upcoming release?

That would be WRITING IT RIGHT.  Years ago, when I was teaching creative writing at Drury University (then called Drury College), I found an old book in the library that had one early draft each of several short stories, plus the published versions.  I used Bernard Malamud’s “Idiots First” often in my class.  It was a revelation to my students that a famous author had to rewrite.  I’ve long wanted to do a similar book with examples from work for young readers.  It was a hard sell and a hard job, but, again with enormous gratitude to the authors whose work is included, it finally happened.

 What is your favorite line(s) from this book? 

 The words of wisdom from Sue Alexander, who helped me understand that the best picture books work on three levels:  “The very young child appreciates the events of the story. . . . The older child appreciates the meaning behind the events of the story. . . . The adult appreciates the universality of the story.”

Nice! Are there any other genres that you’d like to tackle some day? Or, what’s next on your agenda, any juicy projects you’d like to tell us about?

I’m always going back and forth between plays and books, with the occasional poem or article thrown in, so there’s plenty of variety in my life.  At the moment, I’m working with my retired-history-professor husband to make his writing dream come true.  The working title is AMERICA– AN OWNER’S MANUAL:  How Your Country Really Works and How To Keep It Running.   He’s writing it to show people like me that the United States is not going to hell in a hand basket.  I hope he’s right.

Time for the lightning round!

Do you . . .

Outline or wing it?  Very rough outline, usually.

Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped?  About 90% zipped

Sell by proposal or completed draft?  Depends on project

Prefer writing rough drafts or editing?  First drafts are terrifying.

Dread marketing/blogging or love it?  Love school visits, workshops.

Read Kindle or traditional books?  Traditional, so far.

And finally, what’s your favorite:

Time to work?   Whenever I can.

Music to listen to while writing?   City street noise.

Writing tool?   Pen and tablet; computer.

Pair of shoes?   Hate them all!

Guiltiest pleasure?  Writing in my nightgown ‘til lunch.

Line from a movie?   Anything said by Paul Newman.

Awesome, thanks so much, Sandy, for stopping by the cafe and allowing us to get to know you better before the conference! I’m so looking forward to your presentation.

Happy Writing, everyone! 🙂

About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
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6 Responses to Coffee & Conversation with Sandy Asher!

  1. Sandy Asher says:

    My pleasure, Laura!

    Thanks so much for your great questions and for checking on the E.B. White quote. It figures! Who could manage with ELEMENTS OF STYLE?

    And thanks for the photo of Paul Newman. I got to dance with him once, kind of. Ask me about it at the conference!

    All my best,

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Hmm . . . we’re all going to want the juicy details for that story, Sandy! 🙂
      See you at the conference!

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