Friday, October 24, 2008

Author Visit: Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

Please welcome author Kristin O'Donnell Tubb!

About the book:

Autumn Winifred Oliver has charmed a hive of bees, wrangled a flock of geese, and filched a stick of dynamite from the U.S. Government. But it’ll take a whole new kind of gumption to save her Cades Cove home.

Loggers, farmers, volunteers from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – everyone wants Cades Cove. But the Cove is unique – encased in a ring of mountains, the Cove’s culture has evolved unlike any other. It keeps the new out and the old in, according to Autumn. But all that is about to change, unless Autumn and her family figure out something different, and fast.

Set in 1934 East Tennessee, the formation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park drives Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different.

Here we go!

First, thank you inviting me to your blog, Jessica! I’m looking forward to your new series. I live in horse country, and Take the Reins sounds right up my alley!

Tell us about your novel writing process.

My process has changed as my young children (ages 4 and 19 months) are growing, but here’s my most recent schedule:

Step One: Coffee. Lots of it.

Step Two: Take the kids to school, go directly to library.

Step Three: Write in library until my fingers grow numb from the air conditioning, usually about two hours.

Step Four: Move to a place with food and free WiFi. Write for another hour or so.

Repeat every Monday and Wednesday. :)

As for actual writing techniques, I don’t have a magic formula that works for me every time (but oh, if I did!). With Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different, I had a modest outline, but Autumn rarely stuck to my plans – she just had so darn much to say! But with my work-in-progress, Selling Hope (Or, Gaining Glorious Asylum from Mr. Halley’s Fiery Beast), I’ve had to construct an elaborate, 20-page outline, because Hope, the protagonist, is sly and couldn’t be trusted otherwise. :)

What’s your favorite book about writing?

On Writing by Stephen King. I was once reading this book on a beach in Destin, FL, and laughed so hard that the clasp on my bikini broke, and my top went flying off – boing! Mortifying. But wouldn’t you just love for that to happen to one of your readers?! I’ve not read anything else of his, though – not a fan of horror.

As a first time author, how did you teach yourself about book marketing?

As a first time author, my learning curve about book marketing is steep indeed! And I’m still climbing. But I was lucky enough to attend a seminar a few years ago conducted by Alan Gratz (Samurai Shortstop, Something Wicked) called, appropriately enough, “Children’s Book Publicity Workshop.” Alan passed out a booklet that I refer to often, including a timeline of items that should be done at nine months out, six months out, six weeks out, etc. It’s a wonderful workshop; go if you get the chance! I’ve also been fortunate to be a part of the Class of 2k8, which is a gang of 27 debut middle grade and YA authors who banded together for the purposes of book promotion. If two minds are better than one, 27 are exponentially outstanding! Pooling resources with this crew has made me a far smarter promoter.

What’s the worst writing or publishing advice you’ve ever received?

OOO – great question. I think it would have to be, “write every day.” Not everyone can write every day, especially those of us who have young children. If you are truly passionate about writing, you’ll do it every chance you get – but that’s likely not every day. And just because you don’t write every day doesn’t mean you are less of a writer. I think whoever came up with that mantra should’ve phrased it: “write when you can, even when you don’t feel like it.” Because like my yoga teacher says, when you don’t want to do it is probably when you need to do it the most. And, as much as I love to write, some days I’ve really had to force myself to pound out the words. But those days are often filled with pleasant surprises; your protagonist does something particularly charming, or a new character pops on to the screen. And that wouldn’t have happened, had you succumbed to the mound of laundry instead!

You’re a member of the Midsouth SCBWI. What do you like about being part of your region’s SCBWI?

Oh, the people! Let me give a big ole shout out to my peeps in the Midsouth – whoop! whoop! :) Seriously, the people I’ve met through SCBWI are some of the most generous and forthcoming people I’ve ever met. I have yet to ask a question that hasn’t been answered, yet to send out a plea for help that hasn’t resulted in multiple people lending a hand, yet to attend a conference that wasn’t enlightening and informative. Whenever the cocktail-party talk steers toward “oh, I’ve always wanted to write a picture book!” I recommend SCBWI, first and foremost. I can’t imagine writing for children and “not* being a member.

You also participate in the Class of 2k8. What’s new with the Class?

The Class still has new books hitting the shelves every month, so there are launches going on through the end of the year. We’ve celebrated and shared good reviews, second printings, and touching fan mail. Many of the class members’ books are part of a series, so those will follow in the next year or so. And many others are working on books to be released in 09 and beyond. It’s exciting to be a part of the beginning of 27 careers!

What’s next for you?

I have two works-in-progress at the moment. The first is Selling Hope (Or, Gaining Glorious Asylum from Mr. Halley’s Fiery Beast). In May 1910, Halley’s Comet passed by Earth; it passed so close, in fact, that Earth actually passed through the tail of the comet. Mass hysteria ensued, much like the panic of Y2K. It was considered the first case of global paranoia, because it was the first time that the media (i.e., newspapers) reached enough people to feed the fear. Hope, an entrepreneurial vaudevillian, sees an opportunity to cash in on this fear by selling anti-comet pills. (And yes, that really happened!)

The other story I’m working on will, I hope, evolve into a series. Haunted Melody: A Stop the Presses! Mystery stars Eleanor Roosevelt Pitt, a socially awkward but loveable girl who is obsessed with investigate reporters. She’s so entranced, in fact, that she starts a school newspaper, and manages not only to solve the mystery of the ghost in the music room, but get her fellow students enamored with journalistic truth as well.

Okay, now the lightning round. Use as few words as possible, please!

Book that made you cry:

Jimmy’s Stars, Mary Ann Rodman

Movie that made you laugh:

“They still make movies?” she says, changing a diaper.

Last book you read:

Devil’s Breath, David Gilman

One word to describe your book:

Funnitorical (that’s funny and historical combined :))

Whew! :)

Thanks for stopping by, Kristin!

Thanks for having me, Jessica!

Kristin O'Donnell Tubb never met a writing genre she didn't like. Her writing gigs have included licensed character books (Scooby-Doo, Strawberry Shortcake, Bugs Bunny, and Holly Hobbie), magazine articles in Highlights for Children and Spider, and even a nonfiction book on the Eighth Amendment that features an electric chair on the cover (really!). Her debut middle grade novel, Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different, is available at this very moment! Visit her at or

Find her book here!


Mitch said...

If I read that right, then she only spends two days a week writing. And that's fascinating. I wonder how long it takes her to complete a draft...

Barrie said...

Hi Kristin! I can't wait to read your book. Great interview, Jessica.

Kristin Tubb said...

Hi, Mitch and Barrie! Thanks, Barrie - I can't wait for *your* book to hit shelves, too! Funny, funny, funny - my nieces will love it!

Mitch - yes, I only write two days a week. (Sometimes three, if I can squeeze in a get-away on the weekend.) It seems like it takes me *forever* to complete a draft, but the next book should be done by the end of the year, and I started writing in May. Eight months - is that average-ish? :-)

Mitch said...

Hey Kristin! Thanks for responding to my comment. It's always really helpful to read about other authors' writing processes. I really like that you've debunked the myth that "real" writers need to write every day. You're a full-fledged, published writer and you only write two to three days a week. And obviously you're doing something right! I'm not published, so I can't really talk much, but I do write every day, even when word processing seems to physically hurt (which is more often than not lately). I get around 1,000 words written every day, but I'm not claiming that they're anything above sewage quality. And eight months doesn't seem too bad for a draft, especially when you're juggling kids and the like. All I have is a cat and some carnivorous plants!

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