Frequently Asked Questions
Some of these questions
were asked in the classroom and at conferences.
Others arrived via e-mail;
more are always welcome
Contact me
About my Website
Q.  Do you design your own Website?

A.  Yes. It is a very time consuming task that I
enjoy. I want my page to have my personal
attention and touch.
Q. When will it be finished?

A. Not in my lifetime. I have more books to be
written and ideas for pages I want to add. I
plan my site to be an ongoing project.
Q. Why don't you update it more often?

A. I have deadlines to meet and sometimes the
Website just falls behind but I always have
good intentions.
Q. Do you consider suggestions?

A. You bet! Although I don't always make the
suggest
ed change, I always think about it.
And, if you see a typo - I definitely want to
know about that!
Q. Your Teen Privacy Right page didn't give me the information I
needed for my report - What's the point of this stupid Website?

A. My Website is designed to promote my books and tell  you about
me as an author. My book was written to supply information for your
report. However, since you mentioned your report, I will add some
tips for report writers.
Q. How can I make a suggestion or comment
about a page I have visited on your site?

A. Send me an
e-mail
About Writing and Me
Q. I looked at your Website. It is great. It inspired me to
follow my dream of writing nonfiction books for kids.
How can I get started?

A. Write, write, write. Read, read, read. You have to
learn your craft. Rewrite what you write until it is as
good as you can make it.

Follow your dream! It may be a long journey to
publication but, if you are a writer, you will enjoy the
writing as you go along. You will learn something new
with every manuscript you complete ... this is more true
of nonfiction than fiction, because you learn about your
subject as you research and you learn the craft of
writing as you work to create a publishable manuscript.
Q. How did you get started?

A. Well, actually, without a dream. I didn't know I wanted to be a writer until I was one.

Way back in 1970, my husband entered into a partnership to buy a small weekly newspaper. As it turned out, one of
the partners was a little on the shady side (he left with the operating cash) and we were out of the newspaper
business very quickly. However, I was there long enough to hear the elderly editor (who came with the deal) say that
he needed some fresh, new material to make the newspaper better.  I thought, "I can do that."  (I am always thinking "I
can do that!") So, I wrote a column I considered humorous and presented it to the editor. He liked it and I began
writing a weekly column and continued dong so long after we were out of the newspaper business.

It was love at first sight! Once I saw myself in print, I had a dream. I wrote that newspaper column 2 1/2 years while I
worked on my craft. I joined a creative writing class and practiced writing children's stories. My first acceptance letter
came from Highlights for Children: "We like your story and want to publish it."  I will never forget the joy that came from
reading those words. Highlights  published "Little Mistake" in May 1972. In a short time, I had six pieces in highlights -
all but this first one were nonfiction. However, I mostly thought about writing fiction.
Q. Did you get some good advice as a beginner?

A. Read, read, read. Write, write, write.

Write what you know. (This later translated to "Know what you write.")

Writing is rewriting.

If you want to sell, study the market and submit the right manuscript to the right editor.

It is OK to write for your own pleasure with no intent to sell your work.

When I began following my dream, I was told that I would need to write a million words before I could hope to be
published. So, I began work on my million words ... I wanted to be published and I was willing to do whatever it took.
However, Highlights bought my first story long before I had reached the million word mark. Before too many years
passed, I was selling almost everything I wrote. However, along the way, I collected many, many rejects and I am still
adding to my collection.
Q. Where do you get your ideas?

A. Everywhere - memories, current events, personal
experience, my relationships, people I know,
possibilities, wonder, and what ifs. the idea for my
first story came from a childhood experience that
included the tragic death of a wild mother skunk and
the adoption of her kitten by our mammy cat. It came
from "wonder." I wondered what the mammy cat might
have thought about this addition to her family. Maybe
you would like to know more about
Magnolia and her
adventure with the kittens.

                             ***
I was young when I began to follow my dream and
wise, more experienced writers told me I needed to
gain some years of experience before i would have
anything to write about. That wasn't exactly true - at
thirty I did have something to write. However, now
that I have a few more years behind me, I have a lot
more!
Q. What was your first book?

A.  I wrote a couple of mid-grade novels and several
picture book manuscripts that are still tucked away in
my files somewhere.  These manuscripts represent my
first steps in learning my craft and probably should be
destroyed.  

My first published book is
My New Sister the Bully,
published by Abindgon Press in 1985.

The first editor who saw it, bought it. They didn't send
the manuscript back for revision and when the galleys
came, I found very few changes. My editor told me that
she only changed two commas and a period! So, I
guess I learned my craft well. However, I hadn't
learned all I needed to know about the market.

I sent that manuscript to a publisher that did not
normally publish that type of book. However, the editor
loved it and decided to publish is anyway. (I know,
sounds wild - I don't think this happens today.) She
retired about the time the book was released and I
think this might have been her last book.

The bad thing was that this mid-grade novel didn't
seem to fit the rest of their line. Printed on quality
acid-free paper  and priced at $7.95, it couldn't
compete with other publisher's mid-grade paperbacks
on paper of much less quality and selling at $2.98.

Still, my first book stayed in print five years and holds
a special place in my heart today.
Q. How did you learn about the market?

A. Hard work, studying
Writer's Market and Children's Writer's & Illustrator"s Market. I
also joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and attended
writer's conferences. I listened to what the editors had to say at the conferences and paid
attention to the new books on display noting the kind of books the publishers produced.
Page created by  and property of Deanne Durrett
Copyright 2008 Deanne Durrett
Last update 8/24//2008
Deanne Durrett
Author of Nonfiction for Kids and Young Adults*
*Rated Ok for Adults