Coffee & Conversation with Miranda Paul

Happy Tuesday, everyone, we are continuing our series of awesome pre-On the Road to Sparkling Children’s Literature conference interviews! For those who need to catch up, here’s the links:

Miranda_Paul_headshot-300x273Today we have author Miranda Paul joining us! She is a teacher, #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign team member, and freelance writer with 100+ publishing credits, ranging from nonfiction articles and poems to digital folktales. In 2011, she created a critique website for writers preparing manuscripts for submissions, called RateYourStory.org. Miranda is the author of four upcoming picture books from imprints of Lerner, Macmillan, and Random House. She believes in working hard, having fun, and being kind. Her website can be found here and on Twitter, she’s at @Miranda_Paul.

Miranda will be giving a presentation on Saturday called:

Slush Booty: Treasured Tips for Smooth-Sailing Submissions
Among the thousands of manuscripts submitted to agents and publishers each year, how can you make your book and query stand out (without breaking the rules or being annoying)? Miranda Paul will reveal step-by-step tips for getting submissions noticed (in a good way), learned through years as the slush pile sorter at Rate Your Story as well as landing an agent and selling four books in 18 months’ time.

She will also be leading an intensive workshop on Sunday called:

Rhythm and Rhyme: Making Your Manuscript Sing
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, in rhyme or prose, all great writing has some kind of structure or format with rhythmic elements. Miranda will try to help you find that structure or rhythm to pace your book like a song, and offer insights on frequently asked questions (like the one about editors hating rhyme). This presentation will mostly cover picture books and poetry, but will also touch briefly upon leveled readers and novels in verse.

And now that she settled in the cyber chair with her favorite coffeehouse drink, a spicy chai latte, let’s begin!

Okay, Miranda, what was your favorite book as a child?

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My favorite picture books were The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.

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My favorite chapter book/MG was THE BFG by Roald Dahl.

As a teen?

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The Giver by Lois Lowry changed my life. I remember reading the scene in which Jonas sees his father doing something terrible, and questioning everything about authority. As a pre-teen…wow. Just wow.

Awesome, I’m going to ask you at the conference if you liked the movie. And now, as an adult, what’s your favorite book?

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I have a million books I love, and I read a lot, so this is really tough! Memoirs are my favorite. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier was a particularly moving book for me.

What advice for beginning writers do you wish you would have followed?

Stop being in such a hurry.

What is your favorite writing how-to book, technique, or website that has helped you improve your craft or provided inspiration?

Stephen King’s On Writing and Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.

Two of my absolute favorites! Okay, where’s your favorite place to work?

My underground lair. Literally! And my studio with photos was featured online here🙂

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Aw, I love the rejection sign your daughter made! Now, how were you inspired to write your upcoming releases?

one_plastic_bag_FINALCOVERI spent some time teaching and traveling in the Gambia, West Africa, where I came upon a story I had to tell. I met the real Isatou Ceesay in 2007, and One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia will publish on February 1, 2015 and it’s illustrated by the award-winning artist Elizabeth Zunon.

My second book, Water is Water, was inspired by where I’ve lived and traveled. My house is minutes from the shoreline in Green Bay, part of Lake Michigan. Growing up with so much water around made me appreciate it even more when I traveled and lived in places that had so little. That book, illustrated by Jason Chin, releases May 26, 2015.

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

OPB: “And one day…it was.”

WIW: (it’s a rhymer) “Pack. / Stack. / Shape it and / —smack!”

If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?

Hosting a NatGeo TV show or doing marine biology field research.

You’ve been locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read! Your glasses are fine, (whew,) so what’s the first book you crack open?

How to Get Out of a Bank Vault by I.C. Freedom?

Ha, good one! Okay, for one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased author you want. Who do you pick?

William Shakespeare.

You magically find a $100 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?

Frivolous = not me. I’d probably save it. (Boring…!)

What is your favorite quote?

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” —Gandhi

If you could sum up your best advice for new writers in only four words, what would they be?

Learn rules, [then] break rules.    [see what I did there?] 🙂

Time for the lightning round—no more than four words per answer!

Do you . . .
Outline or wing it?  Combination of both.
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped?  Combination of both.
Sell by proposal or completed draft?  Usually completed draft.
Prefer writing rough drafts or editing?  Editing. Hands down!
Dread marketing/blogging or love it?  Dread.
Read Kindle or traditional books?  Combination of both.

And finally, what’s your favorite:
Time to work?  Morning.
Music to listen to while writing?  Silence.
Writing tool?  Pen and spiral notebook.
Pair of shoes?  Bare feet.
Guiltiest pleasure?  Eating right from the jar/container
Line from a movie?  “TOWANDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (from Fried Green Tomatoes)

Oh my goodness. AWESOME SCENE! I had to watch it a come of times before continuing. 🙂 Thank you, Miranda, for joining us and we’re looking forward to seeing you at the conference!

And remember, everyone, registration deadline is September 11, so be sure to register if you haven’t done so already.

Happy writing and drawing!

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About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, and blogger at As The Eraser Burns, Joyful Miles, and Write, Run, Rejoice. In the past, she's been a waitress, telemarketer, cook, real estate agent, and during her college days, a costumed character at holiday parades. (Memories of being terrorized as a candy cane still haunt her at night.) At the age of thirty, she pursued her dream of being a writer. Her first novel, Beauty Shop for Rent, a “Steel Magnolias for teens,” was inspired by a rusted sign by a charming old house, and now, she can honestly say that writing is a thousand times more rewarding than being a candy cane!
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6 Responses to Coffee & Conversation with Miranda Paul

  1. Wishing I could be there to soak up more Miranda gems! At least there’s virtual Miranda. 🙂

  2. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    Me too Wendy! Thanks for sharing Miranda.

  3. Linda says:

    Great interview, Miranda!

  4. So fun to read your answers, Miranda. Thanks for sharing. And you are right. I need to slow down, but it’s not in my nature! Hope you have a profitable conference!

  5. Barbara says:

    Thanks for the great insights!

  6. Pingback: Conference Interview Round Up | As the Eraser Burns

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