Saturday, November 26, 2016

Judy Dearborn Nill Author Interview

Author Interview

Today I’m pleased to interview Judy Dearborn Nill

Please tell about your background.

For the last 15 years I've been a licensed mental health counselor in private practice. Before that, I worked as a newspaper reporter and college writing instructor.

How did you decide to become a children's writer and what steps did you take to make that happen?

I didn't decide so much as feel invited to write for children. My first book idea came as a scene: A 10-year-old girl pitches what she hopes will be the first ever winning softball game for fifth graders against sixth graders. That story went through multiple revisions and countless close-but-no-cigar responses from publishers, including four rewrites for an editor at Scribner's, before it found a home with Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. It's been a journey of 35 years. Persistence was the most important step I took, again and again. I believed in the story; I believed it would be helpful to girls such as I had been. I worked on it, set it aside, worked on other things, set them aside, sent it out, got rejected more times than I can remember, sent out other things, came back to that first story, kept at it, finally got it to a place where I was pleased with it, and then it was published.

Tell us about your book(s), especially about the one you are promoting now.

Too Big: the semi-autobiographical mid-grade novel that took 35 years from inspiration to publication. It's about a girl who's torn between fifth and sixth grade, between childhood and adolescence, between a friend who loves her as she is and a friend who wants to change her. Life is complicated by size—she's the biggest girl in her class—and by parents she feels just don't understand.

Ties That Blind: a young adult/coming of age novel about shattered expectations. Semifinalist for an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award under the title Simple Twists of Faith. “The characters in this novel are expertly rendered....The plot is engaging and keeps the reader wondering what the end result will be.” – Publishers Weekly

Samuel and Sophia: an early reader, or read-aloud story, about twin teddy bears who will not be separated, and the lengths to which Sophia must go to secure a home for them.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I don't keep a writing schedule, so there's no typical day. I have many author friends who claim ideas are a dime a dozen, but that hasn't been the case for me. All five of my book-length projects have required a lot of energy and work. I need to care passionately about a story to take it from conception to completion.

What is the most difficult part of writing for children?

The most difficult part of any fiction writing for me is getting the first draft done. I'm a compulsive reviser. Sometimes I don't know when to stop. I've never been able to let the story flow without mean inner editors telling me to fix this, fix that, it's not good enough, no one will ever want to read it, and so on.

What do you enjoy most about writing for children?

I have been drawn to reading since I was old enough to hold a book in my hands. Books have shaped my life and my thinking. But the books I read as a child were uniquely and powerfully formative. I love the idea of making that kind of difference to a child.

Tell us about your marketing process. What do you do to market and sell your books?

I have very little talent for marketing. I'm private by nature, not extraverted, not techie, not social-media savvy. I rely on the enthusiasm of friends and the networking I can do with fellow writers to publicize my work.

What are you working on right now?

I'm waiting on my muse. She's not sharing with me at the moment, sigh.

What is your best tip for aspiring children's book authors?

Writing-for-publication classes and the writing groups that come from them have led me to lifetime friendships and networking advantages. Other writers I know have connected with agents and publishers through writing conferences. Do what fits for you, what works for you. Enjoy the process, because it may be a long one. On the other hand, you could strike gold on your first dig. You never know!
Thank you so much for insights into your writing life and for tips to help new authors. We wish you the very best of success!

Penelope Anne Cole  
Multi-Award Winning Author of Magical Matthew, Magical Mea, Magical Mea Goes to School, 
Magical Max and Magical Mickey, and 
Magical Max and Magical Mickey’s Big Surprise

In and Out, All ‘Round About – Opposite Friends

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  1. Thank you, Penelope. You do a great job with your interviews and reviews.

    1. Thanks for your kind words. Wishing you much success.

  2. Great interview! I've read Judy's books and enjoyed them all. They're not just for children. I plan to share them with my granddaughter when she gets a little older.

    1. Thank you Sandra, I'm glad you can share Judy's books.

  3. A great interview. I have enjoyed reading Judy's books. I share them with the students at my school.

  4. Very enjoyable interview. Thank you

    1. Thank you Susan, I appreciate your support.

  5. Penny, your interviews are just as fun as your books! Thank you for providing this wonderful service to authors of children's books. ;-)

    1. Thanks, Barbara, Your kind words are most appreciated.

  6. I didn't see the link for ordering this book! Here it is:
    The book's opening is there too.