Today I have a quest visiting whom I met on Linked In and asked it she would like to appear here and share her story. I am indebted to her for the following article.
Margot Finke is an Aussie transplant who writes midgrade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. For many years she has lived in Oregon with her husband, children, and grandchildren. Gardening, travel, and reading fill in the cracks between her writing. Her husband is retired, and very supportive. He gives her lots of time to write and promote her books
Margot didn’t begin serious writing until the day their youngest left for college. This late start drives her writing, and pushes her to work at it every day. Margot said, “I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs. You are my heroes! “
She has 11 published books + the follow-up for Taconi and Claude is due out soon. All her books, and Video readings, trailers, reviews and sample pages can be seen on her website: http://www.margotfinke.com
Her Manuscript Critique Service attracts clients from all over the globe, and her website offers a great deal of help for new writers. Nothing gives Margot a bigger thrill than to hear that a book she helped polish has been published. “This is always a huge YAY moment,” Margot says.
My First Book Illustration and What Came After. . .
When my husband and I first came to the US, I wanted our 3 children to remember their homeland Down Under. So I hung up a map of Australia, one that also showed their critters, and every night I would tell them a story about one of the animals – right off the top of my head. After I became a teacher’s aide, I also began telling classes about Australia and their weird and wonderful collection of animals. Sometimes, I would forget how I ended one of my stories the last time I told it. The kids were real sharp, and would call me on it. A teacher friend said, “For goodness sake write them all down – that way you’ll remember the endings.” So I did, and the rest, as they say, is history. My little stories became a series of 7 rhyming e-books that told fun facts about US and Aussie critters. Educational too, with each one delightfully illustrated by a different and talented artist.
The first in my Wild and Wonderful series was titled Kangaroo Clues. This rhyming story is particularly memorable, because of how I found the illustrator. Imagine this: the illustrator was from Turkey, he spoke no English, and did not own a computer. How was this possible you ask?
An online friend, also Turkish, and famous for her own children’s books, suggested I use her illustrator, Mustafa Delioglu. NOTE: this story pays homage to the value of networking – both locally and worldwide. My friend sent me some of the books Mustafa had illustrated for her, and his work was awesome. Much of Mustafa’s other art hung in galleries over Europe. I shouted, “YES!”
This friend acted as translator for both of us. Talk about a marathon effort. I will always be grateful to her. Fortunately, Mustafa lived near her, so she went back-and-forth for months with my e-mails, and his replies to them. How do you argue with someone in another land, when you can’t see, hear, or speak his language? Oh boy, trust me, we found ways to argue. Almost a year went past before the illustrations were completed, and the book was finally published. I was thrilled with the results – worth every hair tearing moment. His magical illustrations came together with my rhymes in a delightful marriage of fun reading. Kangaroo Clues offers information kids will think fun, while learning about Aussie animals.
These six complete my Wild and Wonderful series.
(The starred titles contain 3 separate stories about 3 different animals)
* Don’t Eat Platypus Stew – *Never say BOO to a Frilly – Mama Grizzly Bear – Humdinger Hummers – *Prairie Dog’s Play Day – *Squirrels Can’t Help Being Nuts.
Of course Wild and Wonderful was just the beginning. Our son was a reluctant reader, and one of our daughters had mild dyslexia. So I started to write stories with a WOW factor that would HOOK kids on reading – especially boys.
The books that followed are in soft cover, e-book, Kindle or Nook readers:
**Horatio Humble Beats the Big D (dyslexia – rhyming PB that encourages early help )
**Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind ( how sudden change can affect kids – rhyming PB)
Both these include helpful parent/teacher guides.
**Rattlesnake Jam ( fun rhyming PB – especially for boys )
**Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble ( Set in the Aussie outback of 1950) This historical young teen adventure offers a coming of age story, aboriginal lore, Dreamtime Spirits, and big decisions for young Taconi to make. Helped by Claude, his chatty cockatoo: spouter of wise and funny oneliners at just the right moment.
IF you want to write for children the following are the most common problems I find when I critique a manuscript:
#1 – Waffling on too long. Waffles should stay in the kitchen with the maple syrup.
#2 – Limp and over used words. Powerful and active words make a powerful and active story.
#3 – Lack of focus. Allowing your plot to wander off down side tracks that lead nowhere.
** Any one of these three is sure to earn your MS a rejection.
You can e-mail me < firstname.lastname@example.org > and can chat about books and writing them.
Thank you Clarike for hosting me on your blog. It’s been a lot of fun.
It’s been an honor, Margot. So glad you could come visit today and share yourself here with us. If any of you have questions for Margot ask them in the comments and we will do our best to answer them.