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Black History Month at The Brown Bookshelf

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I’m a bit late with this news, but I just found out about the awesome celebration of Black History Month going on at The Brown Bookshelf. Every day throughout February, the site is featuring a different featured Children’s/ YA author. You may already be familiar with some of these writers (say, Angela Johnson, Julius Lester, Jacqueline Woodson), and others could be new to you. The spotlights are sure to give you many more titles to lengthen your TBR lists. Here’s the schedule of appearances. Their chat with Tanita S. Davis has just made me want to read Tanita’s book, A La Carte, even more.

Lots of treats here worth exploring all through February.

Thanks to the readergirlz blog for bringing this event to my attention! (Those groovy girlz!)

Author Interview: Sherri L. Smith

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I’m so very pleased to present Sherri L. Smith today at Shelf Elf. Sherri has been touring about the kidlitosphere, chatting and schmoozing about her wonderful new YA title, Flygirl. Check out this schedule of Sherri’s interviews to find out more about the other stops on her Virtual tour. Now it’s my turn to chat with Sherri, which makes me happy, because I loved Flygirl. How much, you ask? Read my review.

Welcome Sherri!

What inspires you? (People / Places / Art / Music / Food)

The most random things give me inspiration—overheard conversations, my crazy dreams, obscure lyrics that push me to explain the story behind them. Flygirl was inspired by a story I heard on the radio, and stories my mom used to tell me about growing up in New Orleans in the 40s and 50s. I do a lot of observing and pondering, and a lot of random blather that sometimes takes shape as a story. It helps that I work around creative people and we tend to come up with strange ideas, and spin them into even stranger storylines. It keeps the creative juices simmering on the back burner, ready to dip into when it’s time to write.

Give us a glimpse into the oh-so-romantic day-to-day life of a writer. What’s a typical writing day look like for you?

I don’t really have a typical writing day, thanks to my day job and a pain of a commute. So, on a perfect day, I get up early, do some journaling, go to work, come home, make dinner, spend quality minutes with the husband, and around 10pm, I sit on my sofa with my laptop and write a minimum of two page, or a completed scene, or story beat. And I do a lot of web surfing and online window shopping. Rinse. Repeat (hopefully with less surfing and more writing as things progress!).

Best piece of writing advice you’ve been given: My mom bought me a used book on writing a year or so before I started my first novel. I flipped through it to a page that said something along the lines of “If you want to write short stories, write short stories. If you want to write novels, write novels.” I really needed to read that. It inspired me to go long form, instead of the years of inadequate short form dabbling I had been doing. And my first novel sold in four months.

Best piece of writing advice you would give someone: Don’t say you are a writer, show you are a writer. Write. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I lived with my brother and I was… underemployed, shall we say? I actually quit a desirable job at a big company and started temping so I could write. And my brother would occasionally ask me when I was going to get a real job again. I know he was just worried about me, but it drove me crazy—didn’t he believe in me? Then, one day I got so busy with actual writing, I stopped talking about it. He’d stick his head into my room each morning on the way to work to say goodbye, and I’d have my laptop in my lap, typing away. When my birthday rolled around that year, he gave me a lap desk and said, “I see you’ve been writing every morning, and I thought this would help.” It did, in more ways than one. Continue reading