Congratulations to Leona Illig on the release of her book The Elephant and the Bird Feeder (1st Ride Enterprises)!!
“Young readers will eagerly follow the adventures of an unlikely trio—an elephant, a parrot, and a boy—as they journey through the back country of Thailand in search of a home for an orphaned elephant. A modern-day fable about the values of cooperation, compassion, and respect for nature, this story will capture hearts and inspire young minds.”
A preview of this beautiful chapter book about cooperation, compassion, and respect for nature can be found on the publisher’s website: https://1strideenterprises.com/kids-peek_ebf/
Leona is a book critic for Children’s Literature, LLC (www.childrenslit.com), whose book reviews are distributed to libraries and schools around the nation. Her fiction has been published by magazines such as The MacGuffin, The North Atlantic Review, The Western Online, and Residential Aliens, while her non-fiction has been published by Sky and Telescope, the premier astronomy magazine in the United States. Leona lives between Baltimore and Annapolis with her husband, David, and a very small spaniel named Clara. Please visit her website at http://leonawrites.wordpress.com.
In celebration of her book release, Leona dropped by the Cyber Café to have a little chat with us. Welcome and let’s get started!
First off, what’s your favorite coffeehouse beverage?
And your favorite snack?
Chips of any kind.
When did you decide to be a writer?
I never really made that decision—I just knew, even in elementary school, that I loved to read and write. I guess I always knew that would enjoy any kind of job that included some kind of writing.
How long did your path to your first book sale take, and what were your biggest hurdles?
My biggest hurdle was finding time to write. Once I had finished a manuscript, however, it didn’t take long—only about seven months from the time I submitted the manuscript to publication. It helped a lot that I used a local, small publisher with a good reputation. And if it’s okay, I would like to recommend them—1st Ride Enterprises.
Seeing as how hindsight is 20/20, what advice for beginners do you wish you would’ve followed?
Everyone is so different, I hesitate to advise people. But I would say this—if you can start by writing and selling short stories, that is a good way to build your reputation and your confidence. When you are just starting out, that is also the time to learn about the business of writing. Find out how agents and publishers work, and read about how the industry is changing. It’s also a good idea to join a writers’ group (like SCWBI) or subscribe to some writing magazines.
What is your favorite writing how-to book?
I like Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus. Even though I don’t write plays, I’ve found that there’s a lot of useful information in books that explain the structure of plays—it’s applicable to all kinds of fiction. And everyone can benefit from learning how to write comedy.
Both are favorites of the ATEB crew! Where’s your favorite place to work?
I write in a spare bedroom that we have upstairs—I have a desk, a Mac, and a printer in there, and it’s perfect.
How were you inspired to write your current or upcoming release?
I am a book reviewer for a company called “Children’s Literature,” and I read a lot of children’s books over the course of a year. One year I decided that I would write my own children’s book, based on my experiences living in Thailand.
What is your favorite line(s) from this book?
What’s next on your agenda, any juicy projects you’d like to tell us about?
I’m currently working on getting some other manuscripts ready to submit for publication, and I am working on a novel about some Americans in Laos.
Time for the lightning round—no more than four words per answer!
Do you . . .
Outline or wing it? Outline!
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped? I talk in generalities.
Sell by proposal or completed draft? Completed draft.
Prefer writing rough drafts or editing? Editing!
Dread marketing/blogging or love it? Accept it—it’s necessary!
Read Kindle or traditional books? Both!
And finally, what’s your favorite:
Time to work? Anytime!
Music to listen to while writing? No music—sometimes baseball.
Writing tool? Scrivener, and the Mac!
Pair of shoes? Tennis shoes.
Guiltiest pleasure? Chocolate.
Line from a movie? “Something wonderful!”
Thanks for dropping by, Leona. Best of luck with The Elephant and the Bird Feeder!