Natasha Wing was born in Milford, Connecticut and now lives in Fort Collins, Colorado. After graduating from Arizona State University she married Daniel Wing and worked in advertising for a number of years. It wasn’t until 1991 that she decided to write children’s books. Luckily she sold her first book within six months and has been writing children’s books and articles ever since.
“I’m curious about many things- people, holidays, underdogs, little known historic figures – and translate my excitement for a topic into books for kids to enjoy. I mostly write picture books, but after 20 years, I’m also writing middle grade novels and easy reads. Cross your fingers they get published! Story ideas are popping into my head all the time, so you never know what my next book will be. But that’s what’s so fun about writing.”
Birthday: February 7, Pet: cat, Jemima, Professional: Member of Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators; Northern Colorado Writers, Colorado Council International Reading Association; Favorite Children’s Books: Polar Express, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Cat in the Hat, The Golden Compass, Harry Potter Favorite Season: Fall Favorite Tree: Maple Favorite Color: Cranberry red Favorite Cookie: Oatmeal Raisin with Vanilla Chips
To find out more about Natasha Wing go to www.natashawing.wordpress.com.
Natasha Wing is the author of How to Raise a Dinosaur and The Night Before Father’s Day
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
What is the last book you read? The Straight Man by Robert Russo for my book club. I love his humor and characters, and his easy way of writing. It felt like you were hanging out with a sarcastic professor. But it’s certainly not a children’s book!
What was your favorite children’s book? The A Big Golden Book version of Cinderella because the illustrations were so elaborate and there was a crepe paper pop-up coach inside the cover. I was also a Dr. Seuss fan.
What were your earliest memories of writing? My mom kept a story I wrote about squirrels that I also illustrated. It was about a bad squirrel stealing food. I also remember having those little blue notebooks with lined paper and trying so hard to form my letters perfectly. I have terrible handwriting now!
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural? I had good schooling in Connecticut, so writing was just part of learning and expressing. I didn’t choose writing as a career until I was 32, but once I did, it all made sense and I’ve been writing ever since. People need to communicate, be it with musical notes, paint, sign language – I am best with words.
Do you generally get a story idea first or does the main character develop first? With my picture books the story idea seems to come first. I get a big picture moment where I can “see” where the story should go. Especially with picture books, a concept arises first. With my pre-teen novel, the characters came first and they are based on my high school friends.
What inspired you to write How to Raise a Dinosaur? As a kid I was both fascinated and scared of dinosaurs. My sister and I shared a bedroom on the second floor of our house in Connecticut and I must have read something about how tall a T-rex was and got it into my head that a dinosaur that big could look into my bedroom window. So I had an escape route planned out just in case one stuck his head in my room. We also used to visit the Peabody Museum in New Haven, so I got to see dinosaur bones and dioramas which fueled my imagination even more. I came up with this idea of “what if you had a dinosaur as a pet” and used puppy-raising/training books as inspiration, and spoofed those.
Are you working on a new book? Always! Right now I’m rewriting the opening chapters of my pre-teen novel, The First Kiss Club, and also developing a non-fiction about our national parks. I’m also playing with an undersea fantasy novel, and waiting to hear back if I still need to make changes to end notes of a book in production called When Jackie Saved Grand Central about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and how she helped protect Grand Central Terminal from destruction.
What is the most difficult part of writing? Polishing a story over and over and over again for an editor who has to try to convince a committee to buy it, and then after months and months of rewrites and feeling like you have a sale since the editor liked it so much, to have it turned down. I don’t like the false hope and the let down, or the wasted time with no pay.
Do you write full time or do you still have a day job? This is my primary job which is probably more like a 3/4 time job. I’ve been writing for 20 years. But with the industry being so screwy these days, I am starting a new business that has nothing to do with writing to bring in money more regularly, and for me to be creative in a different way. I’m making fun bicycle seat covers called bumciclesTM because I love riding my cruiser and I live in a big biking town – Fort Collins, Colorado.
How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block? Bad reviews don’t bother me as much anymore because if I do read one, it’s usually on Amazon and it typically has nothing to do with the story. Instead, someone is complaining about their book arriving late and there’s a crease in the cover and so they give me less stars. Doesn’t makes sense so I ignore it. As for writer’s block, no, I don’t get that. I might get writer’s pause, when I come to a part of the story and I’m not sure where to go next either because I don’t have the research information I need, or I’m not sure where the plot line should go. But with some Terra Chips and a walk away from my desk, I can usually get back to it. Or else I move onto another project, then come back to the first one later when I’m ready.
What do you hope that readers will take away from your book? I hope they smile at the cleverness and want to read it again, or tell a fellow teacher about it. The ultimate satisfaction is when I hear about a child who did a project based on my book. That is the best.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with? Philip Pullman because I think he’s brilliant, but I think he’d intimidate me with his intellect so he’d have to sit a few seats away. J.K. Rowling for her humor. I got to shake her hand at Dartmouth when she was receiving an honorary doctorate I think it was, and I got to thank her for writing Harry Potter and getting more parents to read. But I would love to exchange more conversation with her. I’d like Amy Tan to be there, too, since I like her odd way of looking at the world. And Mary Nethery and Barbara Kerley because they are my friends and I miss them since I moved away.
What author inspires you the most and why? I honestly don’t have a favorite author. I leave myself open to exploration and inspiration depending on what project I’m working on. I suppose the most inspirational authors for me are the ones who write manuals on writing. I could always use a good tip to improve my skills.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.? I grew up in Connecticut so I feel like I have an inner drive to produce – the Puritan work ethic. Plus I used to work at a newspaper and advertising agency where we were always up against deadlines. So I naturally have internal deadlines and this year I actually wrote out a goal sheet to get an overview of what stories I wanted to write and finish in 2012.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read? Don’t just do a drive-by the book displays and grab a cute, cheap book, or one based on a movie. Ask the salesperson for some suggestions. And if they are aware of their inventory, not just the latest gimmick book, then you will experience some wonderful books that may not be best-sellers, but are better matched with your child’s interest. And for the young kids, do take the time to read a traditional book with them because there’s a bonding that happens with a parent and child that doesn’t happen when you hand them your e-book reader and press a button and leave them on their own.
What advice you would give to new writers? Develop thick skin. There’s a lot of skill development that needs to happen which takes time, a lot of waiting for editors to reply, many rejections, and a more difficult market to break into if you’re hoping to publish a traditional book. But on the flip side, there are now other outlets for publishing that allow writers to get their stories to the public without going through all the gatekeepers. But you still have to write well. Don’t skip having your book edited by professionals.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? I believe that everyone has their own path to success and happiness, so what one writer might experience is not necessarily what you will experience. But that’s what makes it an interesting ride! I also want writers to remember that this is a people business, so try to meet the people who will help you get published – writers, agents, editors and librarians. And then sit down and write.
Thank you for this interview.
Books received for review and spotlight
My Pop-Up Bible Stories
Lucy’s Hero Remembering Paul Wellstone by Karen Shragg
Ember the Dragon and the Burthday Surprise by Kay Lynne Virgin
Hubert Shrubb takes charge Save Our Miss Lamb by Sue Graves
In My Mailbox was started in November of 2008 by The Story Siren http://www.thestorysiren.com/in-my-mailbox. This is a great way to feature Author’s books even though it might not be in the form of a review. In My Mailbox is a great way for bloggers to socialize and network their blogs, it’s also a great way for bloggers to share upcoming releases!
Anyone can participate in IMM and you are not limited to only sharing books that arrive via your mailbox. You can also share books that you’ve bought or books that you’ve gotten at the library.
My name is Ella Johnson. I started Mymcbooks to promote reading. As a former teacher, I know that making basic education fundamentals interesting to children can be challenging. Education can be fun, exciting and captivating for children with the right learning tools. So my goal is to “make learning interesting and fun” for the children while they learn, by introducing them to fun books with colorful and captivating illustrations.
In 2009, I start the giveaway program giving away free school supplies at random to 2 winners each year. I also started a monthly free giveaways for books and gifts.
August 2010, I extended the free school supplies from 2 to 5 winners at random on my blog and also give away 20 bags full of school supplies to familes in need at Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Florida during their family nights. And in 2012, I beat my that number and gave away a lot of school supplies to needy families. Hopefully, I can continue to do this each year.
In 2011, I started writing reviews on children’s books then giving these books away free on Mymcbooks Blog. I increase the number of books we giveaway free to help support parent. My goal is to give away as many as I can each year. This is also a great way to introduce parents to new books.
Mymcbooks blog is always looking for other ways to give kids free books. So I started Mymcbooks Birthday Library http://mymcbooksbirthdaylibrary.wordpress.com/
My goal is to giveaway at least 300 books to children each year.
Books Given in 2011: 315
Books Given in 2012: 380
Book Given in 2013: 330
Book Given in 2014:
Read Interview about Ella Johnson, owner of Memorable Children Books & Gifts http://melangeofcultures.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/interview-with-ella-johnson-founder-of-memorable-children-books-gifts/ Interviewer: Nicole Weaver
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