Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Author of the Week: Aileen Stewart

1) How did you become a writer?

 Becoming a writer was really a long process for me, but the seeds of writing were planted early in my childhood. In fourth grade my teacher entered my class in a poetry contest where I won an honorable mention. This helped to spark my love of words. I also inherited a love of words from my father who was a freelance author for hunting and fishing magazines and my mother who was a great verbal story teller. For many years I longed to be a published author, but wasn’t quite sure how to go about becoming one.  I wrote poetry and short stories, but nothing really came of them until my daughter was born.  When she was a toddler and we were watching cartoons together, I began to notice that quite a few of them were based on books. The more I saw this, the more I began to think I could write a book entertaining enough to be turned into a cartoon. One day I mentioned this to my husband who looked at me very seriously and said, “Well then, why don’t you?”  It actually took me longer to become published then it did to write my book. It was a journey fraught with many rejections; but a journey I am thrilled to have taken.

2) Where do you find your inspiration to write?

I find inspiration for my writing in everyday life and the things I know. The farm theme in my book Fern Valley is based on my growing up years. One of my best friends during that time lived on a farm. It was a magical place that I loved to visit full of interesting new experiences. The adventures in my book are loosely based on things that my brother and I did while growing up and the characters in my book are loosely based on people I knew.

3) How do you balance being an author, blogger, and public speaker all while being a stay at home mom?

Since I am a stay at home mother, I have slightly more time then those authors that work a full time job outside of the home; but I do stay busy with marketing and volunteering at my daughter’s school and our public library. I reserve my writing time for after my daughter goes to bed. This way, I am not using valuable time that could be spent with her and I have the peace and quiet I need to concentrate on my craft. It also helps that I have a very supportive husband and family. When I need to travel to book events, my family members all pitch in to make sure my daughter is taken care of and doesn’t miss any school. If it weren’t for their support, I don’t think I would manage very well.

4) What are you hoping readers take away from your books?

First and foremost, I hope my readers are entertained. Life is a difficult balance of joys and heartaches and if someone reads my book and is able to find an extra moment of joy to add to their memories I am truly grateful. I also want the readers to go away with positive ideas about fun, family, and friendship which are the basic themes of my book. Children especially need to know that they are capable, that honesty is still the best policy, that being a good friend and being kind to others makes life better, and that working hard for what they achieve brings a satisfaction unlike any other.

5) It seems as though you enjoy cooking. Have you ever thought about writing a cookbook?

It’s funny that you should ask that particular question because I have indeed thought about writing a cook book, although not in the traditional sense. I am currently working on a sequel to Fern Valley that will include recipes at the end of each short story. Cooking and baking are just two of my many hobbies besides writing. I can remember many a moment working with my mom in the kitchen making some tasty desert or helping with dinner. As a mother, I now spend time in the kitchen with my own daughter building good memories that I hope she will carry into her adult life down the road.

6) Is there one type of genre you enjoy writing more so than another? If so, what & why?

I basically only write in the children’s genre because I have never really outgrown my love of great children’s literature; and when reading for my own pleasure, one will generally find me with a children’s books in my hand instead of a more adult book. To me, childhood is a simpler time where the worries and cares of everyday life have yet to take their toll. This genre always takes me back to that simpler, joyful time.     

7) Most writers have a process or method for writing their books. What is yours?

I guess I am the odd duck as far as the writing process goes because I don’t really have any particular method. Unlike many writers, I do not write every single day; but instead write when the mood strikes. Sometimes I will get ideas while doing my everyday chores like taking my daughter to school or shopping. When this happens, I have to wait until I have a free moment and then I write the ideas down on any scrap of paper that I have handy. I have taken to keeping small notebooks in my purse for such occasions.  Sometimes things I have seen or heard will spark and idea. Recently I was listening to a song by one of my favorite Christian artists and it inspired me to write a picture book about Peter called Peter’s Second Chance: A Story of Forgiveness.

8) Where can readers find your books?

Readers can find my book almost anywhere online such as Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Books-A-Million, Parable Christian Books, Powell’s, etc... They can also be found at Tate Publishing’s online bookstore. If customers want an autographed copy, they can stop by my website www.funwithaileen.

9) What is something that you want your readers to know about you?

I'm just your average mom. A gum chewing, bubble blowing, shower singing, flower planting, cookie baking, craft making, photo taking, reading, writing, kind of mom.

10) Are you currently working on any projects and if so, can you give us a sneak

I have my spoon in several pots at the moment. I am trying to find a taker for two Christian picture books, I have finished the sequel to Fern Valley and I am working on the third one that I mentioned before which will include recipes, and I am working on a children’s mystery series for eight to twelve year olds.

11) What is the best advice you can give to an aspiring writer?

The three P’s: Patience, Persistence, and Practice. If you don’t have these three things in abundance, you might as well find some other line of work or hobby! Patience is important because nothing and I mean nothing in the book world happens as quickly as you think it will and long periods of time often pass before you hear back from publishers, agents, and others. Persistence is important because when you do finally hear back the answer is more likely to be we are not interested then anything else. But like I always tell the children I speak with on school visits, never ever give up! And lastly, Practice is important because as a writer you always want to be learning, growing, and becoming the best writer you can be.

Purchase at Amazon.com

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