I decided to feature this author because of all her amazing work. Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing “Tale of the Spectacular Spectacles,” one of the books belonging to Kibbee’s series, “Theodore and the Enchanted Bookstore.” The illustrations for this book were done by J.H. Winter.
If you love Corgi dogs, and reading animal adventure books, then Theodore is the dog for you.
Here is my review.
Here are the author’s contacts
Let’s start with an easy one.😊
How did you become interested in writing for children at such an early time in your life? What sort of stories did you write as a child?
Early time in my life? Huh? You know that I’m old as the hills, right?? Heck, I had to become long in the tooth just so that I could realize how much it stunk, and how much I wanted to desperately retreat back to childhood!
As far as “types of stories” that I wrote as a child *blushes eight shades of crimson* …. mostly stories about dogs. Maybe I thought if I was persistent enough, I could convince my Mom that buying me a puppy was a good idea?
Is there a project on your “To Do” list that one day you hope to take on, such as a different genre series?
Oh yes, I have a bevy of literary “To Do’s.” Amongst them are forayed horror, drama, and character-driven stories for the “seasoned” generation” (this is what we oldsters call ourselves nowadays).
What piece of advice would you give to new writers who want to write for children?
There’s SUCH a backlog of talented writers trying to break the children’s market. It feels like lunacy to pursue it! And yet, here I am *scratches head*.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about writing since being published
Hmmm … I’d have to say it’s that being published (even in the traditional sense) doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve “made it.” I recall swooning over authors who had a fistful of published titles under their belts. Now I realize that just because someone puts your name in print, it doesn’t mean that anyone will necessarily recognize said name.
“Theodore,” a Corgi, is not just a dog but a specific type of dog breed. Do you have a Corgi? Why did you choose this breed for your series?
While I find them adorable as all get-out, I do not actually own a Corgi. My publishing house, Corgi Bits (an sister press to Incorgnito) actually commissioned me to write the series, as Theodore is considered their mascot.
How do you deal with writer’s block? If you’ve never had it, how do you think you’ll deal with it, what steps/stages would you take to bring back that creative bug?
I don’t believe that I am afflicted with a traditional variety of writer’s block, although I do occasionally experience a knot in my noodle. It’s not so much that I don’t know how to say something as much as it is that I sometimes don’t know the proper direction for events. When I hit one of these types of roadblocks, I find that the best tact is to let the characters sort it out. They’re typically quite vocal about where they want to go!
About how long does it take you to write a book for your series? Can you take us through the process that you use step by step? Do you have the whole series outlined before you begin, or do you write and create the series as you go? Do you use storyboards?
I’m more of what they call a “pantser,” meaning I don’t use a traditional outline. Now, that’s not to say I haven’t tried the outline route, nor that it’s an unacceptable way to write. It’s just not a method that works well for me. I’ve tried outlining down to the finest point–storyboards pinned with pictures, and character traits ranging from hair, eye and color down to what he/she likes to put on their English muffins. But ultimately I’ve found that a rough outline (perhaps one or two pages) does the trick. And I keep it malleable because many times my characters push things in a direction I’d never intended.
What other authors do you admire and why? Where do you see yourself in ten years? Still writing? Ever consider teaching others to write?
Honestly, I’m not a huge reader (insert exaggerated gasp here), so I don’t track many authors’ careers. I do admire JK Rowling’s business savvy and philanthropy, but most of the admiration I’ve kindled comes from watching other “nobody” authors like myself stick at it, day after day, even though the rejections keep pouring in. But, just like me, these folks have words tattooed on their souls, and they simply can’t quit. So, yes … in ten years I still see myself writing, in whatever capacity. Would I love to be climbing the NYT Bestseller list a decade from now? Of course! Will I? Only the shadow knows. And as far as teaching writing to others, that would require a degree more specialized and advanced than my measly BA in Humanities, so unless do a Rodney Dangerfield by returning to college as a wrinkly ole spud … probably not!
Is there a better time in the day for writing? Do you have a special place to write?
I typically write in late afternoon/evening, in my office.
Do you have a muse? Does writing take up a large portion of your life?
I’d like to think that my late Mother is my muse. She believed in me no matter what and encouraged me to pursue my writing full time. As such, it does now absorb a large portion of my days. But that makes me feel like I’m doing what I was intended to do.
What sort of books do you read? What do you do to relax and channel ideas?
I haven’t read a book (aside from my own) in ages. I suppose that it feels too indulgent. I can’t seem to fully lose myself in reading, because I’m too busy thinking, “You should be using this time to improve your own stuff!” And moreover, I don’t want to unwittingly snake another writer’s ideas. I’d rather that my ideas come organically, from my own warped imagination. I take a daily 10 mile walk, and I let my mind wander as I do.
You’ve self-published a novella, “The Mischievous Misadventures of Dewey The Daring.” You’re also traditionally published. If you were to compare self-publishing to being published traditionally, what key differences would you claim to exist between the two for you? What was the most difficult part of being self-published? And, what is the most difficult part of being traditionally published? What are their perks?
For me, self-publishing was much more arduous. There was a good amount of “figuring out” that went into it, and given that I’m borderline “technologically challenged,” it was a bit of bear. Of course, you have more freedom with self-publishing, but you also don’t have someone with expertise standing on the sidelines and offering a fresh perspective. I also found that I was clueless as far as the level of marketing chops required to really succeed as a self-published author. I just thought, “hey, I’ll write something, I’ll put it out there, word will get around, and my books will sell like hotcakes!” Cripes, what a dumb bunny! Nope, I’d far rather have a team of folks behind me … folks who know the ropes and no what to do and what not to do. I don’t think I’ll ever return to self-publishing, even if it means leaving my stuff in mothballs.
How did you transition from self-publishing to traditional publishing? Was that first step initiated by yourself through an agent, or were you approached by a publisher/agent? Is building an author’s platform an intricate and perhaps, the most important (other than the writing of course) element to building a writing career?
I think that’s a very astute conclusion– that “building an author(‘s) platform . . . is the most important element to a writing career” (aside from the writing), and I dare say, it’s very true. Which, in all honesty, I find sad. Nowhere in the definition of “writer” is any whisper of marketing and grandstanding and singing your own praises mentioned. And yet that it what the industry has come to. I’d say that a less talented author can easily surpass an extremely skilled one, simply by benefit of more honed marketing efforts. As for me, I was fortunate enough to come across a publisher (Zharmae Publishing) who was willing to look at me, sans agent. From there it was simply a process of submitting my work, and inking the deal!
Are you still a columnist for Terrier Group magazine? How did you land that job? You’ve also done a bit of magazine writing. Would you advise other writers to take this path, approach magazines first to help build their author’s platform? Can you explain your thoughts about this?
Terrier Group is actually owned by the fine folks who used to run another magazine that I wrote for, which has since disbanded (Just Frenchies). I got on at TG by way of my connections at JF, but wouldn’t have landed either gig, had I not asked. I actually queried JF on my own, and initially offered to write for them for free, in order to pad my portfolio. I figured that a published material (paid or not) would do a writer well, and I stand by that.
Did you have a say in cover design for both book series?
Yes, my input was considered.
How many book signings have you attended? Where do you feel is the best place for book signings: a store carrying your book, at a library or during a conference?
I could count the number of book signings I’ve done on one hand, and I can’t say I’m greatly inspired to change that. In my experience, the venue doesn’t matter nearly as much as the notoriety of the author hosting it. When no one knows your name, they hardly care to have you scrawl it in a book.
Are you a social media genius for promoting your work? What other ways do you promote your work?
Good gawd, no! I did develop myself a nice little following on Twitter but found that it absorbed 4-5 hours of my day, simply to maintain. And taking a hard look at my book sales for the months during my follower surge, I see little difference. I’d probably have been better to spend those hours flipping fry baskets at McDonald’s.
What inspired your “Forests of the Fae” series? Would you ever take on an adult fantasy series?
Forests of the Fae was actually originally inspired by an abandoned riverfront town under 100 miles from me, called Frankfort. While no rumors of a Fae presence haunt the town, just this image of an abandoned town, overtaken by nature, inspired me. From there, my imagination took off. And that imagination may just drive us into an adult fantasy series. Who knows. It often takes the wheel and doesn’t tell me where we’re headed.
Do you ever do any speaking events about writing? If yes, where and what sort of topics do you present, or do you just talk about your own work and answer questions? Have you ever had a really hard question asked of you or one that still resonates with you long after the event occurred?
I’m about as hermity as hermity gets. I avoid public speaking whenever possible. Also, I don’t think I’m nearly popular enough that folks would care what I have to say about … well … much of anything!
Tell me a bit about “Whole in the Clouds.” I’m a bit intrigued by the title. What inspired this creation?
Whole in the Clouds was very much inspired by my own girlhood. I was often miserable as a pudgy little adolescent and dreamt that I could float atop the clouds and have my chunky little self transformed in the process. I also spent many an hour with my shy eyes peering from behind a book, and noticing how everything in the worlds felt backward. The mean, cruel girls were pretty. Us tubby gals were often sweet, but never considered worthwhile. In the pages of Whole in the Clouds, I corrected all of that and made a world where people’s insides were reflected on the outside, and all the wrongs of the world were undone.
Any nonfiction projects on the horizon? Would you ever consider writing a nonfiction how-to book?
Ugh. No. I could never write non-fiction. Lies are far too delicious!
Did you have a lot of encouragement from family when you began writing? What funny or endearing thing has a family member done to promote your work
Yes and no. My folks always wanted me to have a practical job–something dependable. And now, as an adult, I certainly understand their motivations. So, I did as a good girl should … I went to college, got my degree, and then just circled back around to what made my heart sing! But at that point, my family could see that writing was my path all along, and became more encouraging of it. My Mother always had a habit of bragging on me, but never in my presence. I’d think she hated my stuff, but then I’d catch her secretly gushing about me behind my back.
What was the main hurdle you had to overcome when you first traditionally published? What would you change about the publishing world if you could?
I suppose that my main hurdle was landing an agent, which I’ve STILL yet to do. Honestly, I’d change EVERYTHING about the publishing world if I could. Maybe I could borrow one of Rowling’s wands?
I’m going pretend I can grant you a do-over wish… what would you choose to do over in the field of writing as it affects your career.
It’s hard to say. Many steps of mine could have been missteps, and I’d be none the wiser. I am at peace with my place in the world right now. So perhaps none of them were.
That concludes the questions. Thank you so much for taking this time.
Columnist, TerrierGroup Magazine
Whole in the Clouds
Forests of the Fae: Book one–Devlin’s Door
Forests of the Fae: Book two–The Raven Queen
Forests of the Fae: Book three–Lang’s Labyrinth
Theodore and the Enchanted Bookstore–Tale of the Spectacular Spectacles
Theodore and the Enchanted Bookstore–The Adventures of Robin Hound
Theodore and the Enchanted Bookstore–Mysterious Abbott and the Velveeta Rabbit