Thursday 10 January 2013

Writer - Shirley DeKelver

I'd like to welcome you to my interview with writer, Shirley DeKelver.  Enjoy.

Shirley DeKelver

Hello Shirley.  Can you please introduce yourself?
I'm SHIRLEY ANNE DEKELVER, from White Lake, British Columbia (west of Salmon Arm).
How long have you been writing?
Other than research papers in my job, I began writing in 2004 when I was taking a correspondence writing course. 
What first got you interested in writing?
I have always enjoyed writing, but I did not get into it seriously until after I retired.
Do you attend a writing group?
SHUSWAP WRITER’S GROUP.  I joined in 2005 when I retired.
Why do you attend a writing group?
Support, social contacts, belonging to a club whose members have the same interests as I have. 
What is the most valuable thing you have taken away from your writing group?
The support from the members.  If I ever need advice or information on any writing topic, there is generally someone in our group who can provide me with information.   
What genre(s) do you write?  What drew you to this/these genre(s)?
Children and Young Adults (contemporary, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Humour).  I have always felt that children’s novels, on the whole, are well written and interesting, and I enjoy spending time with children of all ages, so what better than to write for them.
Are there any genres that you don't enjoy writing?
I haven’t found any yet that I don’t enjoy, although I haven’t branched out to many genres.
What types of things do you write?
I write some poetry, short stories (fiction and non-fiction), and periodically a short article, and of course, novels. 
Have you ever had anything published?
Yes, my first young adult novel, The Trouble with Mandy, was recently released by Solstice Publishing Ltd., e-publisher.  My book is available in pdf format as well as print.

Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers?  Have you received any rejections?
I have not sent my writing to agents, but I have submitted my novel/novels to publishers in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.  I have received many, many rejections.  (the first was the hardest, now I am just happy to get a response)
I know what you mean.  It's nice to, at least, be acknowledged.   Would you consider self-publishing?
Many of my friends and acquaintances have self-published, but I do not want to go that route right now.  If a writer is lucky enough to find a publisher, the benefits are editing, proofreading, layout, and marketing, with the main advantage being their expertise in publishing and finding a wider market of readers.
Marketing is one of the most difficult things to do when you've self-published.  Who/what influences your writing?
I love writing for children and young adults, as I am a great advocate of literacy in children. 
How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
Most of them are in my head, or develop as my story progresses.  My granddaughters are great role models for the characters’ personalities. 
What is your writing routine?
If possible, I write every day.  I try to start around 10:00 a.m., which is when I have my highest energy. (I’m getting to be an old lady).  I usually try and put in at least four hours a day. 
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I usually prepare a short synopsis, and then I make a list of my characters, setting out their traits and attributes.  Once I begin writing, I try to stay as close to my synopsis as possible.  When I do my editing, then I make the changes I want.  
Do you have an editing process?
As I write, I edit.  Some may think this is counter-productive, but I find it easier when I get down to my serious editing.  I have asked my friends (never family members) to read over my work and to provide me with a critique as well.  I sometimes read aloud when I have writers block.  
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
I enjoy watching my story and characters develop, as I feel I have accomplished much.  I do not enjoy the process of submitting, and having to wait forever for responses.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
I don’t feel it is important that my writings get shared, but it definitely is great when I receive compliments and positive feedback from anyone who have read my writings. 
Have you ever entered any writing competitions?
Yes I have entered many writing competitions. The only one I ever won was when I was in grade eight in junior high school. 
Have you ever attended an open mic event for spoken word performers?
Yes. Many of my friends have launched books, or had readings at coffee houses, events, etc.  As well, my writers’ group hosts a Special Coffee House every year which launches our three day writer’s festival. I coordinate and emcee the event.  I have also read at coffee houses, workshops, etc.  
What is the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?
Without patience and perseverance, you will not succeed. 
What advice could you give to a new writer? 
Never say “if” I get published, say “when” I get published.
Positive thinking!  Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I enjoy photography, painting, bird watching, and golfing. 
What types of things do you read?  Do you think your writing reflects your books tastes?
I read novels (all genres), magazines, articles, short stories.  I don’t think my writing reflects my book tastes, as I enjoy reading a huge diversification of areas other than children and young adult. 
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been? 
HARRY POTTER. I have read all seven books in the series many, many times.  
What are you working on at the moment?
I have completed a second novel for young adults, historical science fiction involving time travel, which I am currently submitting to publishers.  I am working on a third novel, a fantasy, which started out as a trilogy, but which I have combined as one book, as generally the word-count for fantasy novels is a minimum of 100,000 words.
Do you have a website/blog/Twitter/Facebook dedicated to your writing?
FaceBook Media Page:
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
The following except is from the first chapter of my published novel, The Trouble with Mandy.
Chapter 1 - The Injured Eaglet

Mandy and Lance shuffled slowly down the gravel road. Their footsteps created swirls of dust that dissipated in the suffocating heat. Lance listlessly kicked an old pine cone, and it landed with a soft thud in the bushes.

It was midmorning, and the sun beat down relentlessly, absorbing what little moisture was left in the air. The only sound disturbing the silence was the clicking of dragonfly wings.

“Let’s go down to the lake,” Mandy suggested, tying her hair up in a ponytail and tucking it under her hat. “It’ll be a lot cooler down there.” 

“Okay,” Lance said, shrugging his shoulders. “We can swim out to the diving platform.”
Mandy took off her eyeglasses and wiped them on her T-shirt. She hated wearing them when it was so hot. It was the beginning of their summer holidays and already the heat was overbearing.  Maybe she could talk Lance into going canoeing later.
They had not walked far when Mandy stopped abruptly. “What’s that?” she asked.
Lance walked past her and slowly approached a dark object lying in the middle of the road. “Wow,” he said, excitement building in his cracking voice. “It’s a baby eagle.”
All of a sudden, the young bird began thrashing wildly. Lance jumped back, almost tripping over Mandy, who was standing directly behind him. The eaglet tried to stand up, and Mandy noticed that its right wing was hanging at an odd angle. After struggling for a few seconds, it flopped over and lay motionless.
“Whoa, did you see that?” she said.
“There’s something wrong with its wing,” Lance said.
“Be careful,” Mandy warned, grabbing Lance’s arm and pulling him back. “It could be dangerous.” 
 © Shirley DeKelver
Thank you very much Shirley.

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