Thursday, September 1, 2011

Parenting to Publishing: Bethany Crandell

This month’s Parenting to Publishing is with Bethany Crandell . . . . Let’s hear how she’s trying to balance it all.

CW: Tell us a little about yourself.
BC: I recently turned 36 which means I’ve been married for…EVER. I have two amazing little girls (9 and 6) and a chocolate Labrador who has no regard for personal space. I work full-time, write whenever I can steal a moment (which is typically courtesy of a helpful Grandma or a new iCarly episode), and quite often stress about life situations that I have absolutely no control over.

CW: When did you start writing? 
BC: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. As a kid I wrote several books for school projects--one I still have (complete with horrible illustrations), is all about how certain events in my life made me feel. The distain for beef stew page is my favorite.
Since then I’ve always tinkered with poems, short stories, etc., but about two and a half years ago I realized that my nightly My Little Pony productions weren’t filling the creative void in my life. After reconnecting with a good friend and creative coach, I started doing some focused writing. Small bits at first; five minutes every morning just to establish a routine, then gradually build on that.  Before I knew it I was writing at every opportunity, and was well on my way to completing my first novel.

CW: What genre do you write? What is your book about?

BC: I write YA. SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS, the book I received representation for, is the story of seventeen-year-old Cricket Montgomery and what happens to her the summer she’s forced to work at a camp for disabled teenagers. It’s funny, bordering on irreverent, but is an honest and sincere look how Cricket’s upbringing (silver spoons & credit cards) has shaped her into the person that she is. What she discovers with the help of some unexpected friends, and a Zac Efron look-a-like who steals her heart, is that changing how she views the world doesn’t mean she has to say goodbye to the person she’s always been, but rather embrace the person she’s always wanted to be.

CW: Tell us a little bit about your journey to getting your agent? What were your query stats? What is the most memorable feedback (good or bad) you have received about your book?
BC: I queried SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS for about six months (taking a break half-way through for some edits) before I got THE CALL from my dream agent Rachel Dugas. 90 queries sounds about right, with a dozen full requests and about as many partials.

CW: Most writers dream about getting published. Tell us how it works.
BC: My dream version involves Bradley Cooper, a six-pack of beer and a huge royalty check. The reality version has yet to happen. I’ll report back when it does.

CW: Can you describe your writing routine? Any certain music, food, smells or atmosphere that get you in the mood to write? 
BC: I like it quiet. No music. No TV. No kids. Just me, the computer and a lot of peppermint Orbit gum.

CW: What is your favorite writer’s resource?
BC: Query Tracker is a pretty incredible tool. I admit that congregating with so many like-minded folks was a little intimidating at first, but once I dove in and started connecting with other writers, reading their experiences, sharing my own--it proved to be invaluable. (It’s also where I met one of my dearest friends. For that reason alone I will always sing its praises.)

I’m also a junkie. Synonyms make my toes curl.

CW: How do you feel about conferences? Have you been to any? Do you have any suggestions as to which conferences are good?
BC: I have only attended one conference, the SDSU Writer’s Conference in San Diego, but it was such an incredible experience I’m dying to go again. The participating agents were friendly and encouraging, and the breakout sessions were so informative, I actually left feeling like I needed a heavy dose of Xanax—so much to take in, but really good stuff.

I must confess; I was terrified before I went to the conference. I was sure that every other participant would be a best-selling author and I was the one token idiot. Boy was I wrong. Not only were the other attendees at various stages in their careers, but everyone was supportive and encouraging of everyone else.

CW: What are you currently working on?
BC: My current WIP is a very light paranormal YA, which is sort of scary because my comfort zone is my favorite place to hang out. It’s about an ornery angel whose trying to earn her wings.

CW: What are you reading now? What is your favorite book? What is your favorite movie?
BC: Right now I’m finishing up FOREVER, the third in the Maggie Stiefvater trilogy, but may have to set it aside before I’m done. I have a good pal’s WIP on deck and I’m pretty eager to start in on that.  My all-time favorite book is BREAD AND JAM FOR FRANCES. I love animals that do people things. As for my favorite movie…Oh I could go on for days. Since we all either need to vacuum, change a diaper or get to soccer practice, I will give you just a handful (in no particular order): Sixteen Candles, The Shawshank Redemption, The Goonies, Pride & Prejudice (Keira’s version), Sound of Music, Breakfast Club.

CW: Tell us a little about your kids, husband and home life. 
BC: I’m married to the boy I met when I was a senior in high school and he was a PFC in the Marine Corps. We were just friends until we started corresponding through letters during his deployment to Somalia, (for the record: I wrote hundreds, he wrote 5) but the friend status changed shortly after he returned home. He’s incredibly supportive of my writing though would rather cut off his own hands then do any writing himself.

My girls are quite simply the coolest kids on the planet. The oldest, nearly 9, has an ear for words, both written and spoken. (She does a killer Spanish accent). She’s dramatic, sensitive, hysterically funny and, oh yeah…highly-emotional. The little one is extra special, and not just because she’s so cute you could eat her with a spoon. Just before her first birthday she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. While she’s definitely behind the curve of other first graders, she makes fans everywhere she goes. I liken her to a spring flower. While her petals are wrapped up tighter than most, the beauty of watching them unfold is like having a front row ticket to a slow motion miracle.

As far as my home life: Last year my dad paid me one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received. He said that he enjoyed visiting our home because it was peaceful. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for a home environment—and for my kids. I want them to know that no matter what happens out in the big, bad world they can always return home to a safe and peaceful place. (Side note: My dad made that comment before we adopted our current dog)

CW: What kind of support do you have from friends and family when it comes to writing?
BC: Endless. I couldn’t do any of this without them.

CW: How do you balance writing and family life?
BC: *sigh* There are days when I actually manage to cook a meal, unload the dishwasher AND give the kids a bath. Those days I feel like Super Woman. Then there are the days when we have cereal for dinner and bath time involves little more than a scrub with a baby wipe. Those days I feel like a complete failure. I think as moms and wives we feel like we have to be everything to everybody all the time. While it’s important to put the needs of our family first, we need to remember sometimes the best thing for our family is for mom to have some time to write by herself. I try and do that—but it’s hard.

CW: What has been your biggest challenge in writing so far? Any solutions?
BC: I have ridiculously high expectations for myself. If I don’t reach a particular word count on a given day, I’m a failure. If I get another rejection…failure. I haven’t figured out a permanent solution, but prayer, venting to friends, and the occasional alcoholic beverage definitely help.

CW: What is your guilty pleasure? Tell me something people wouldn’t guess about you.
BC: I’ve watched the last episode of Glee (1st season) about 1,000 times. Noah Puckerman (Mark Salling) scan turn me into a puddle with one raise of his eyebrow.

CW: Any advice you can give to writers? Also, any helpful tips, tricks or websites? 
BC: It was a little scary when I first started to put myself out there with other writers, but that has turned out to be the most valuable support system I could have asked for. From critiquing, to advice—your writer friends will support you like no one else can.

Thank you so much to Bethany Crandell for telling us about her journey in Parenting to Publishing. We wish Bethany much success and can’t wait to be able to get her book at our local bookstore.  Visit Bethany’s website and blog, and stop by and say “Hi” on Twitter, @rookieriter