Guest Author Interview with Charlotte Hopkins

Thank you very much to author, Charlotte Hopkins for her interview with us! We are grateful you decided to help us out! 1. What inspired you to write this book? Answer: For my book 365 Days of Family Fun, I was writing an article for Momsense magazine that would give fun activity ideas for moms and their children during the upcoming summer. I wanted to give creative ideas that would be lots of fun but would not cost a lot of money. As I completed the article I wondered if I could write one for moms and dads that would be an activity for everyday of the year. That article grew into my book, 365 Days of Family Fun. While I was writing it, I worked on one for writers, as well. A book that would give creative writing prompts for practicing and strengthening your writing skills. Maybe they can turn one of those prompts into a great book.Those two books are tiled, “365 Days of Writing Fiction” and “365 Days of Writing Nonfiction.” There was such an interest in those books that I am writing a few more that include 365 Days of Celebrating Wine and 365 Days of Mysteries in America 2. Can you tell me about the book? Answer: Along with my 365 Days series, I wrote my first children's books, On a Hike With Pixie Trist and Bo. I wrote the book for preschoolers and kindergartners to teach them fun facts about nature, animals, and lots more. My book is written in a rhyming pattern that makes it more fun to read. 3. What is your writing process like? Answer: I write every single day for two-four hours in the morning. Sometimes I work on more than one book because while I am writing one, I'll think of something to add to another book so I jot down notes for that one at the same time. I prefer to start writing with pen and paper and then when I am about halfway through the book, I will move it all to the computer and start typing from there. I carry a notebook with me everywhere so I am often writing down notes and ideas that come to me throughout the day. It's just something that I love so much. It's my passion. I have started to work on a book of fiction short stories, titled Coconut Juice. With those stories, I seemed to write the last chapter first. I then wrote my own description of what I wanted to write in the story. My next step was a chapter-by-chapter outline, then I started writing from there. I think there are a few writers that have story ideas come to them at once. I just happen to write them down as they come to me. 4. What did you learn when writing the book? Answer: With my 365 Days series, I learned that there are so many amazing, funny, and sometimes scary things that have happened in America. We have such a rich history and a lot of it is being missed out on. With my Pixie Trist and Bo books, I learned how fun it can be to write for children and just how easily they truly can grasp new facts. With Coconut Juice I learned how writing fiction opens this whole new world of creativity where anything is possible, because we can make it possible. 5. What surprised you the most? Answer: That I can actually write fiction. I always enjoyed writing nonfiction because I can combine my love of teaching, sharing facts, giving advice, and writing. It can be all rolled up into one ball. Then I realized I can do all of those same things when I write fiction. But writing fiction, I can also add it into a world that I always imagined. A world that I want readers to desire visiting. 6. What does the title mean? Answer: My 365 Days Books, show these books are chock full of information that can be utilized all year. It can be a resource to read over and over again. Pixie Trist and Bo are the main characters that children will follow on a number of adventures, swimming the ocean, traveling west, exploring grandma's attic, and visiting the farm. Coconut Juice is the first short story in the book. It is about a man that drinks the home remedy, Coconut Juice, passed down from his friends great-grandmother. And he waked up living in that time period that she lived. 7. Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who? Answer: No they were not. However, I was inspired to write Coconut Juice when I was in church at CCSP (Calvary Chapel South Pittsburgh). They were remodeling and discovered the original brick wall under the paneling and wanted to honor the work that went into building the church in the 1800's so they kept the brick wall instead of adding paneling over it. I have a picture of the church that was taken a few days after it was built and it felt surreal to touch this original brick wall that I saw in this picture. Then I wondered what it would be like to go back to that day. 8. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended? Answer: One of the stories in Coconut Juice is titled, “Charm.” I know there will be some empathy for the characters lost. But I would think that it also ends with a great deal of healing and accepting death. That part a lone can be extremely EXTREMELY difficult. 9. What advice do you have for writers? Answer: Write everyday. Write your heart out. Write at your own pace, Some of us have a few books going on at once, others cannot do that. Some will have 2-3 books out in a year and some will take a year or two to write just one book. All of that is perfectly fine – whatever works for you is fantastic! Don't compare your successes to anyone else. It will only distract you and slow you down. Write the way that is good for you. And enjoy the euphoria that comes when you realized your book is done – and soon it is in your hands. 10. Does writing energize or exhaust you? Answer: Absolutely energizes me. It's my passion and my escape. 11. What are common traps for aspiring writers? Answer: Wanting to write the next best seller. Just enjoy writing. Whether it is read by 200 people or 200 million, it doesn't matter. Appreciate all of your readers, even when there are just a few. As you write more, your group of readers will grow. If you write a best seller then enjoy your achievement but if you don't write that best seller and your readership grows no more than a few thousand – that's an achievement too. Don't expect the best from the start, you will only beat yourself up if it doesn't happen. I'm not saying it can't I'm just saying slow down and enjoy every step along the way. 12. What is your writing Kryptonite? Answer: Actually, writing at my desk. It feels constraining and I can't think. When I start writing, I sit on the couch or outside on the porch. Then later when I am moving my notes to the computer, then I am okay with writing at my desk. 13. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Answer: Not, for this book, no. Maybe for another one. That would be a secret, lol. 14. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? Answer: I try to mix both. I think writer like a lot of the topics that are out there but they need to see them written in a different way. They need to see it with a fresh look. 15. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? Answer: I think being in 3 different genres that they will (hopefully) stand on their own. Though they will be in a series so they will not have to stand alone. 16. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Answer: My 365 Days books and Pixie Trist and Bo are published. Coconut Juice has not been published. I have ideas for 14 more books, that I have not approached a publisher with. I'm one of those people who wrote for years but I was too afraid to submit my work. That is how I have so much written and/or started already. 17. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? Answer: I will spend a few days with research and then I just dive right into it. 18. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one? Answer: When I started writing professionally, it was the day my daughter was born. It wouldn't be until 20 years later that I can say it became full-time work because I always had another full time job. 19. How many hours a day do you write? Answer: I make sure that I write 2-4 hours in the afternoon and almost every night, I will write another 2-4 hours. 20. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult) Answer: The most? I would say parents/adults and children. 21. What did you edit out of this book? Answer: I haven't edited anything out of my books yet. 22. How do you select the names of your characters? Answer: A few times I combined names that I like and other times I just hear them mentioned on TV or in a movie or I hear a name that I like. For example, I worked as a Ghostwriter and one of the men in the story was named Horatio and they called him Raish. And I like that. 23. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? Answer: Teaching preschool. I taught for over ten years and truly enjoyed the job. Children are fun and eager to learn, they make it all worthwhile. 24. What was your hardest scene to write? Answer: For my fiction book, I thought it would be the death scenes but it was more the scenes where I described the pain the friends and families went through after the death. 25. What is your favorite childhood book? Answer: There would be a few. The biggest one is Peter Rabbit – all of them. Then there would be The Fire Cat by Esther Averill and The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward 26. How long on average does it take you to write a book? Answer: About 6 months – a year 27. Do you believe in writer’s block? Answer: Absolutely! I think we let out anxiousness to finish and our worry about 'will people love this book' to bring on the dreaded writer's block. 28. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand? Answer: Longhand to start. Well, sometimes I finish by longhand as well. I only use blue ink pens. My favorite blue pens are the Bic Cristal Xtra Bold. Then I go to the computer. As typewriters go, well. I love the feel of a type writer and the nostalgia of knowing a writer once sat at those keyboards but I hate using them. I was terrible in typing class because I hated not being able to look at the keyboard. So, the typewriter is just not my friend. 29. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer? Answer: I was 7 years old. I was hooked on Peter Rabbit and wanted to write my own adventures for Peter Rabbit and his brothers 30. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something? Answer: Not hard at all. I enjoy it everyday. 31. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day? Answer: No, I do have to time myself though or I will write all day. This isn't a terrible thing until I realize that I missed doing other things that needed to be done. And I won't mention my swollen feet. 32. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you? Answer:When I think of an idea for a book, the plot naturally comes with it. 33. Any tips you would like to share to overcome it? Answer: Well, like I said, write at the pace that fits you best. 34. Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors? Answer: I do love to read and my favorite authors are Rob Oliver (a true inspiration), Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah 35. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion? Answer: It leaves you feeling something new, whether they are fun and useful facts, or life lessons. 36. How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing? Answer: Well, honestly, I would be a little sad but accept it. I'm not one of those writers who developed a thick skin. I know we are supposed to but that little lesson passed me by. 37. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read? Answer: It was the Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward. 38. How much of yourself do you put into your books? Answer: I put a lot of myself into it. They are a part of me. You know how I mentioned that “thin skin” that I have? Well, it comes out here too. 39. Who are your books mostly dedicated to? Answer: They are always dedicated to my children and my nieces and nephews. They are the most important people in my world. I also dedicate the book to a few people that inspired or encouraged me along the way. 40. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family? Answer: In high school when I knew I wanted to be a writer I did get encouragement from my Aunt Shirley and later my mom. I think most people hoped that I would change my mind. I told that to my brother-in-law and how much it bothered me when people said “I won't be a real writer.” He just said, “Well, there's only one way to prove them wrong.” And that became the motto I wrote by. 41. Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that? Answer: I have a few that could be called muses. One is penguins! Having penguins around me when I am writing is just so helpful. It's just like a bunch of little hugs. Second is Peter Rabbit. I have a Peter Rabbit book on my desk and one that I carry in my purse. Peter reminds me of how excited I was when I first started to write so I always remember what started it all. Third would be my writer movies. They are great to watch for inspiration or when the dreaded writer's block creeps into my day. And when I need something quick to snack on – Neapolitan ice cream! It helps me think. 42. Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that? Answer: Not true – some are independently comfortable. But most writers do it for the love of writing so we are okay with that. 43. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts? Answer: Nope, not ever. You can get a near-perfect first draft. I guarantee that if you read it over, at least once, you will think of some more good stuff to add. 44. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers? Answer: Sure, but it's a reality of writing and I knew that going in, so I didn't let it upset me - too much. 45. What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any? Answer: I was going to co-author Charm but that didn't work out well. I don't like someone else taking out my ideas to insert their own, the ones they call “better ideas.” I'm a bit defensive of my babies. The closes I am to co-authoring is with author Uncle Dave Howard. He is an award-winning children's author. He provided all of the artwork for my Pixie Trist and Bo books. He made my characters come to life and in that way, we made a great team. 46. Is writing book series more challenging? Answer: No, it's so much more fun to expand. 47. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier? Answer: It is one of the most frustrating feelings ever! That is why I now carry a notebook everywhere I go! 48. Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts? Answer: No, I just don't have the heart to throw away any of my drafts. 49. Can you tell us about your current projects? Answer: I told you about a few of them but here is another one. The book is Titled And Then I Stepped In Gum. It is something like a lifeskills books for teenager. It talks about the good and bad with self esteem, school, goals, family & friends, as well as, missing the grade, broken relationships, failed goals and making it through those bad days when everything is going wrong and then to top it off, you step in gum! 50. Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day? Answer: My fourth grade teacher, Miss Roell was the first one to tell me that I could write my own books one day. She knew how much I loved Peter Rabbit and let me construct a large paper rabbit that was used to decorate the main entrance of the school at Easter that year. Then there was Mrs McVey, ,y senior English teacher, at Frazier High School, truly encouraged me and helped me to win a Journalism scholarship. In my yearbook she wrote “Can't wait to see your articles in print.” Today it's still the best compliment I ever received. 51. Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid? Answer: My mother certainly did! She often bought lots of books for me, along with PLENTY of paper, pencils, and lots of pens!! And it was never a problem for her if I wanted to spend all day at the library. 52. Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs? Answer: I do enjoy talking about upcoming ideas but more with a select group of friends. I do value their input. This is because of that “thin skin” again. 53. Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece? Answer: Yes, my books Pixie Trist and Bo and my short story Charm came from dreams I had. Links: - - - -

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