I met Lori on the RealWritingTeachers' message board. She was on there promoting her book and of course, I told her I was an author too with a YA novel coming out in September. She offered to be my guest here and between the two of us we settled on a date months from the day we were talking. Now it's here and I am very pleased to introduce you all to Lori Z. Scott, author of the Meghan Rose series. She is a second grade teacher, a speaker, and a best selling author as well as the author of ten published books:
Lori Z. Scott remembers three main things about growing up: laughter, prayer, and Super Cat.
As a child, Lori spent hours around the dinner table giggling at lame jokes, puns, and punch lines. Laughter is still a vital part of her everyday life and her writing. (No joke!)
Prayer played a key role in Lori’s life too. After all, with three boisterous sisters, talking to God was about the only place she held a prayer of getting a word in edgewise.
Lori wrote “The Adventures of Super Cat” in the margins of her high school science notebook. This daydreaming/doodling phenomenon has occurred several times throughout her life, but that information remains strictly confidential.
Laughter, prayer, and Super Cat all show up in Lori’s children’s fiction series. The books are funny (she figures, if it doesn’t amuse her, why write it?) and bursting with energy. The main character, named after her own daughter, is a strong, out-spoken first grader. Her best buddy Ryan and duck-loving pal Kayla help round out the cast.
As a speaker, teacher, and bestselling author, Lori Z. Scott has published ten books, contributed to more than a dozen other books, and published over a hundred short stories, poems, puzzles, articles, and devotions for children, teens, and adults.
One big advantage to being a teacher is that I’ve worked extensively with my target audience. I understand the challenges they face, the jokes they enjoy, the way they talk and act, and how they play. I believe that understanding gives my writing authenticity. I know the kids I’m writing for…and that better equips me to reach them.
The Meghan Rose series is geared for an age group that has shared a huge part of my life. I taught primary grades (K, 1, 2) for nine years before retiring to raise my own kids. But I’ve also worked with kids this age on a volunteer basis as a leader for VBS, Sunday school, AWANAS, Pioneer Club, and Team Kids at church. I also helped with an Outdoor Education camp, worked at a children’s museum, and ran an after school art club.
The teacher in me also enjoys extending my stories. That’s one reason why I included activities and discussion questions at the end of each book. I put even more ideas, games, and jokes on my web site, www.MeghanRoseSeries.com .
After retiring from teaching to raise my kids, I felt content to be just a mommy.
But God is full of surprises, and he had something fun in mind for me. Step by step I feel like God led me to where I am now. It started with contests. I saw a flyer for an amateur science fiction/ fantasy writing contest, entered, and won second place. Encouraged by my success, I tried MOPS International story writing contest…and WON! After that, I joined a writer’s group, learned more about the publishing industry, and eventually landed a contract for the Meghan Rose series.
I think sometimes it’s hard for people to call themselves a writer when it’s not what they studied to become. I know it was hard for me since I got my degree in Elementary Education. Yet somehow here I am. And I love writing because it thrills my heart much the way music thrills the performer, a horse its rider, or a child her mother. Plus I love playing with and wrestling with words. I also find it curious how I can both lose myself and find myself between the inky lines I pen.
However, contests have some pitfalls. You have to research the contest diligently…it’s easy to run into scams. Also, if a contest has a stiff fee and low pay-off it’s probably not worth your effort. Some writers I know won’t enter unless they know they’ll receive feedback on their submission.
Like contests, writing for magazines forces you to write tight, meet deadlines, and (often) address a theme. My experience writing short stories for Pockets magazine gave me the confidence and skill I needed to tackle writing chapter books for kids.
Perhaps the best way to break into a magazine is by submitting poems, puzzles, or fillers. Writers would do well to study the magazine’s style and writer’s guidelines before submitting.
Now, to finish answering your question. Do I recommend writers follow the path of writing for contests and magazines on the road to book publication?
I see contests and magazine writing as one a viable option among many. For example, I’ve heard Sunday school take home papers are a great way to build up writing credits and hone writing skills (perhaps for the same reason it’s good to write for magazines). I know some people who developed a speaking platform and used that to launch their writing career. So I guess my recommendation would be to examine your skills and interests, take note of the opportunities open to you, and take advantage of both. Develop your craft, never stop learning, be the best writer you can be, and, no matter what road you take, enjoy the trip. I
When my daughter was in first grade, her teacher started reading the Junie B. Jones books in class. Since Meghan liked them, I picked up a few copies. Well, I enjoyed the humor in those books, but when Meghan started acting and talking like Junie B., I started editing out those grammar slips, name calling and bad attitudes…and looking elsewhere. I thought there had to be an alternative choice—a book that was just as funny, but also had a good take-away value. I scoured the Christian bookstores. I couldn’t find any fiction for her age group, only devotional books and Bible stories.
What was your reaction to the illustrations when you saw the finished product, being that your character was based on your daughter?
First, let me say that my illustrator, Stacy Curtis, is amazing, absolutely amazing. He’s an award winning artist and all around great guy. He was very patient with me when we first hooked up. He sketched adorable picture after picture for me, but I kept shaking my head and saying no. The problem was I had the REAL Meghan Rose living with me, so I had a very clear idea of what she should look like. That made me very picky. Finally I found his email address and sent him Meghan’s Kindergarten picture. He said, “Wow! Her personality seems to pop right off the page,” and then he captured that zingy, bouncy, big-smiled energy perfectly.
All the other character illustrations came right out of Stacy’s creative mind, and I’ve been just tickled with them. I also really appreciate Stacy’s sense of humor, generosity, and kindness. Though I wrote the text, he’s the one who designed the Meghan Rose web site…and I’ve gotten oodles of compliments on it.
The titles of those books are Meghan Rose Takes the Cake (published ), Meghan Rose Knows it All, Meghan Rose Is Out of This World (published)*. In them, Meghan explores helping others, humility, and honesty (by title respectively). But, of course, no preaching, only lots and lots of laughs and very subtle life lessons.
- My March show is going to feature two wonderful Muse authors, Terri Main and Lindsay Below. Please tune in on March 24th at 3PM Central, 4PM EST to learn more about these very talented authors. In keeping with my highlighting Muse authors I will be having Terri on my blog as a guest too.:)
- It's getting close to St. Patrick's Day and The MuseItUp Bookstore is having a contest!!! Click on the banner on the top of the page to learn all about it. I'll just say that you could win $25! Unfortunately, I can't participate, since no one from The Muse family can take part. Darn!!! So I hope one of you wins!