I'll be at the Tukwilla Barnes & Noble with fellow authors Joni Sensel and Trudi Trueit. Starting at 6:00, we'll be answering questions, reading, signing books. Come see us!
If you've visited me online before, you might notice that something is different. I've changed my website, again. So, welcome to the new site. You can read through some older posts, check back for new ones, or leave a message for me. (I will get back to you!) Whatever you do, I hope you like the new look. - Thatcher
The answer is yes! But not until next spring. That's when Roy Morelli Steps up to the Plate will be on bookshelves. You can see the cover on the left. It takes place in Pilchuck, just like the first book did. Toby isn't in it, but a few of his friends are. In the meantime, I'm posting a bunch of commonly asked questions. Enjoy!
A reader on the forum asked how we know when we're "done" with a book and ready to submit?
Like a funny cat story, there is no such thing as "done". I sent in my manuscript when I thought I had begun to do more harm than good. When you trim the fat, you don't want to cut too deep, right? And I think I was right to get the book off my desk when I did. Because what I have found is that the material I have come to loathe the most in a story, the gunk that makes me cringe, will be the stuff the editor likes best. It works the other way, too. Sometimes I think the sentence I am most proud of is the first one I should delete. Especially if I wrote it at four in the morning. It goes on and on. I'll be getting ARC's soon and I've already asked my editor if I can make some minor changes.
As always, these questions originate in the class of 2k7 forum and are posted here.
There is a major difference between me and Toby. I was a walk-on benchwarmer in high school. I had nothing to prove and no life lessons to learn. A book starring me as a benchwarmer would put every anesthesiologist from here to Chicago out of business. To me, being on the team was cake. Playing time, when it came, was icing. Toby, on the other hand, wants to show the world he can play "real" ball. He is like me in some ways though. I think we were both on the young side of eighth grade. Friends I had built forts in the woods with a year earlier were now smoking, going to parties with girls, and clashing with the police (sort of), and this is what happens to Toby in the book. Except for the smoking and the police.
On the Class of 2007 Website, you can find answers to the "ask a debut author" questions posted regularly. Click the link to read answers from all of the other 38 members. In the meantime, here are two answers I posted recently:
Where did the idea for TOBY WHEELER: 8TH GRADE BENCHWARMER come from?
As a senior in high school, I rode the bench on the varsity basketball team. I averaged less than a point a game and once forced a turnover without a single second ticking off the clock. Good times. For the book, I wanted to tell the story of a basketball season as seen through the eyes of a benchwarmer. Now, there are two species within the benchwarmer genus. Happy-to-be-here benchwarmers, which is what I was. And get-me-in-the-game now benchwarmers. Toby had to be the second kind if there was going to be any tension. What happens to him during the season, and the ideas for game situations, came less from personal experience than from imagination, reading, and surfing coaching websites. But if I hadn’t been the twelfth man (of twelve) on that basketball team, this book probably never would have happened.
What writing training have you had?
I have never taken a writing class. As a history major in college I learned to go an awfully long way on very little fact. This skill is very important if you want to be a novelist. I also rely heavily on other books in the most honest way I know how. What I mean is, reading stacks and stacks of other middle-grade and young-adult books has given me a sense of what I like, what I don’t like, and where I think I fit in. And, yes, I am terrified I will brain-pocket an idea that doesn’t belong to me and pass it off as my own. That’s why I cease reading during the writing process. But the most important training is experience. In order for fiction to come out, something has to go in. That some something is experience. That’s why you see author bios like So-and-so has been a teacher, a bartender, a navy seal, an arctic explorer, and an understudy for several members of the Culkin family . We aren’t bragging or trying to be clever. We just want you to know that we have the real-life experience to back-up all the stuff you just read in our books. So, that’s my training: reading and experience.