Monday, March 18, 2013

Meet Author Margo Dill

Today's author interview is with Margo Dill from St. Louis, Missouri. She is a blogger deluxe and teaches classes about blogging and using the internet. She also authored a children's book and has two more scheduled for release in the near future.

Hello, Margo,  
I know you were a school teacher and are now a writer and a very busy blogger. What do you write, and how do you help teachers with your blog, http://margodill.com/blog?  

I write mostly children’s books, although I have written all kinds of things from poetry to short stories for adults, from creative nonfiction to articles about teaching and writing. I have also covered town council meetings for the newspaper and currently have a book review column in the Sunday paper, The News-Gazette (Champaign/Urbana, IL).

My blog introduces readers to books (picture books, middle-grade and YA novels, memoirs & self-help books geared toward women), provides a review and key facts, and ideas for how to use the book with kids or discussions to go with the book. I also like to promote women authors and have a theme of helping women and children around the world.

When I was a piano teacher, I told my students to always remember the main thing: keep the beat going, don’t let the tempo lag behind. What are some things bloggers should always do, in order to have a successful blog, one that people will come back to?

You have to blog on a consistent basis—if you decide to blog twice a week, then try to stick to that most weeks. People are busy, and they will stick with you for a while if you are sporadic. Eventually, though, they’ll find another blog to read that has similar information and is updated consistently. You also have to provide useful information. Teachers and librarians have e-mailed me to tell me that they really enjoy my blog, or they got an e-mail subscription or recommended it to a home school friend. I’ve even gotten speaking engagements because of my blog. So, I am providing a service for people who work with and/or parent children and teens, as well as a platform to promote my book and show people its educational value, too.

I was expecting that answer. Could you tell by my question? Thanks for reminding us of the need for consistency. Tell us about some of the books you have written as well as those you have under contract.

1.     Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg (White Mane Kids, Oct. 2012) is a middle-grade (ages 9 to 12) novel set during the Civil War with a 13-year-old girl as the main character.
2.     Lucy and the Red Ribbon Week Adventure (High Hill Press, TBD) is a picture book about a first grader who has trouble listening during Red Ribbon Week at school.
3.     Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire, and the Case of the Missing Cookies (Guardian Angel Publishing, TBD)  is a picture book about a little girl who helps her grandma figure out WHO is taking the freshly baked cookies.

How do you use your book Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg to help homeschooling parents and teachers?
There is an educational section in the back of the book, which provides “the true story” of Vicksburg to show children that much of the book is based on fact—people really did live in caves during the Siege to save themselves from the Yankees’ shells, and they even ate rats to keep from starving! The back also has discussion questions for each part of the book and extra resources if kids, teachers, or parents want to know more about the Siege of Vicksburg.

On my blog every Wednesday, I post something about  my book. Sometimes, I post thank you notes or photos from school visits and kids. Other times, I post lessons that have to do with the six plus one traits of writing or the Common Core Standards, and I connect these lessons to my book.

I just finished reading your book. It was exceptional, and I could tell you had done a lot of research. I would recommend it for children and adults alike. The effects of war on both children and adults was shown realistically and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Incidentally, this is the book that will be offered to the winner--those who comment on this blog! Tell us how you use other books to give lesson plans to busy teachers and parents. Where do you find the books and how do you come up with the lesson plans?

I use my public library a lot! I also get books from publishers and authors to review. Coming up with the lesson plans or discussion questions is easy for me—much easier than writing!  I was a classroom teacher for eight years and a Title I teacher for two years. I guess when I read a book I am always thinking: How would I have used this in the classroom or with kids?

What is Women on Writing, the blog, and how can aspiring writers and bloggers use it to the greatest advantage?

WOW! Women On Writing (http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com ) is actually an e-zine and a blog—the content on the blog changes every day like a regular blog, and then the e-zine is published about six times a year with articles and columns around a certain theme, like a regular print magazine. The best thing writers can do is sign up for the posts to be e-mailed to them and the newsletter, too. Both are free, and then writers can read and respond to posts and issues that directly affect their writing. You can sign up for the newsletter on the home page and for the blog posts at this link: http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com .

I took a class offered on this blog--for several weeks you tutored me and I set up my blog and got it going because of this class. I know WOW offers many classes. How do you choose teachers for the classses offered on this blog?

Instructors actually create a proposal of a class and must turn in a resume. Then the classroom moderators, Angela and Marcia, decide whether or not the class is approved. A writer must have experience in the field and a detailed proposal in order to teach a class. Angela and Marcia also do evaluations on new instructors to make sure that the class is being taught as the instructor said it would be. So basically, anyone with writing experience who has a good idea for a class that is not already being taught can apply to teach a class.

How important do you feel it is to belong to a writer’s group? Which one do you belong to and how does it help you?

Writing groups are invaluable! First, I belong to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) because it is the best professional organization for children’s writers. They offer workshops (free and discounted) for their members at both the national and state level. I am connected to other children’s writers across the world and have gotten to know many in my state—it is a source of information and support. I also belong to the Missouri Writers Guild and Saturday Writers, a chapter. Again, I enjoy the camaraderie with other writers, and I also think their programs are informative and improve my writing skills. I also have a critique group—Lit Ladies, which is great because they help me with my current work-in-progress and keep me progressing on it.

What writers’ conference(s) would you recommend for someone who wants to write children’s books, as you do?

Any conference sponsored by SCBWI or a state SCBWI chapter is a great conference. For more information, go to http://www.scbwi.org to read more and find out what your state or region may offer.

Do you have any other advice for those who are trying to break into the writing market?

You CANNOT give up. It took 11 years for my book to go from idea to published copy. Some of that was completely out of my control, and I had to just keep writing and keep believing. Also, it is important to network and support other writers. You’ll need that support some day!

Thank you, Margo, for your expertise and your willingness to be interviewed on my blog. I appreciate your time.

Margo and Juanita have one copy of Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg to giveaway (it’s a paperback).  To enter to win the book, please leave a comment below with either a question, statement, or PICK ME! Also make sure to leave an e-mail address. You need to leave your comment by March 30. Juanita will pick a comment randomly on March 31 and contact the winner. The book will be mailed to the winner, hence the need for email address so you can contacted if you win. U.S. mailing addresses only please. Any questions? E-mail Juanita at mjnobles@charter.net.

This is the cover of Margo's book, "Finding My Place:One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg".

Enter a comment to be in the drawing to win it.
Tell about it on Facebook or on your blog, to get extra entries to win the book.
Link to my link when you tell about it: http://juanitanobles.blogspot.com and your name goes into the drawing once for each contact.





28 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say THANK YOU for the wonderful post and for everything you are doing for authors. :) You are great. I put this out to my email list and will post on my Facebook page, too. :)

    Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for the review. I'm interested in this book for my daughter.

      Susan Missey
      Susanmmissey@aol.com

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    2. Thanks, Susan, for commenting. I know Erin will love the book! I'll keep you posted.

      And thanks, Margo, for your comment. I hope many more will check in and we'll have lots of entries to win this wonderful piece of historical fiction for children. You are teaching history to children without them even realizing it! Can't wait to see who the winner is.

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  2. I'm currently one of Margo's students, just getting to know her and just getting started as a writer. I would love to have a copy of a book Margo wrote, especially this one as the title for the novel I am writing is "Finding My Place" (chosen before I ever met Margo or knew about her book).

    Margo, I'm so excited for you! Happy Book Launch!

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    1. Tjanks for the comment. Please send me an email so I can contact you in case you win. My email address can be found above.

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    2. I have Mary's email if she doesn't get it to you. :) Mary, thanks so much for stopping by! :) Finding My Place is actually the book title of a few books, so that's why I think my publisher gave me a subtitle, too, but it was PERFECT for my book, so they let me keep the title. :)

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  3. Great interview.
    Margo's advice to never quit and be consistent is so true.
    I already have a copy of her wonderful book, so don't enter my name in the contest, but I'd like to recommend it, especially to lovers of historical fiction.

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    1. Donna, you are the best. Thanks. :)

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  4. Thanks, Donna. I thought it was great--so good for kids to learn history in such an exciting and pleasant way.
    Juanita

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  5. As always margo provides great guidance for writers. I must get to a conference this year! And I'm looking forward to reading her book, too. I have an MA in history and love historical fiction. Congrats Margo!

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth, for stopping by. I appreciate it immensely. I am not sure if I knew you had an MA in history. I love historical fiction, too, obviously. It is the best way to learn history. :)

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    2. Thanks, Elizabeth, your name is entered in the contest. I love historical fiction, too.

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  6. I would love to win this book. Is it AR? I didn't know Margo is from St. Louis. I grew up there and attended a St. Charles SCBWI conference a few years ago. We probably passed each other.

    Thanks for the contest.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com
    jlansky(AT)comcast(DOT)net

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    1. Joyce:
      It's not AR. I know I need to figure out how to do that. I have attended the St. Charles conference a few times--maybe we were there at the same time. :)

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    2. Thanks for your comment, Joyce. I appreciate you stopping by. Your name is in the pot! There will be new contests for books every first and third Monday. You might find some other books you'd like to win.

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    3. Check the list on the "Author Interviews" tab. There are other contests coming up, and you may find some more books you'd like to try to win.

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. It's always encouraging to hear when another writer's willingness to "Never Give Up!" pays off! Congratulations, Margo on your book. I can't wait to read it. Your blog and your advice on how to incorporate books for children is great.

    Even if I don't win your book here, I hope you're participating in the book signing at the MWG conference. I want a signed copy!

    Thanks to you, Joyce, for interviewing Margo!

    Here's my email address: djessner6@gmail.com

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    1. I appreciate your comments, Donna. Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you will come back for future interviews and free books.

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  9. Never give up, indeed. Jack London had 608 rejections. You can see them at his home.
    I'd love to win the book.

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    1. Now that's perseverance to the highest degree!
      Thanks for visiting my blog. Please visit again for more author interviews and articles.

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  10. I would love a copy of this book. My daughter has recently started a book club at her school and this would be a great book for them to read and discuss.

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  11. Oops! Here is my email address: ajschwarz4@earthlink.net

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  12. Thanks, Ann. Yes, this would be great for that purpose. There are discussion questions at the end of the book. I'll announce the winner on my blog on April 1. Thanks for your interest.

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  13. @Ann: Yes, the questions for teachers could also be used for book clubs! :) OH, and I offer a discount for book clubs and I can Skype in if they have questions. :)

    @Susan: I didn't know that about Jack London. WOW! That is amazing that he got that many. He is such a good writer.

    @Donna: I will be at the book signing at the MWG conference. :) See you then.

    I really appreciate all the support. Don't forget to come back and see Juanita's blog on Mondays--she has a lot of very good authors and giveaways set up. :)

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  14. I thought I would also mention that if you don't win it--I'm running a sale through April 1. So hop on over to: http://margodill.com/blog/2013/03/20/spring-book-sale-finding-my-place/

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  15. I'll announce the winner on March 31, a day early, so the runners-up can all go to Margo's site and get the book! Mine won't be autographed, because I got it from Amazon, but at least you'll know in time to get a copy from her.

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  16. It will be during the afternoon on that Sunday. It's Easter Sunday. Hope everybody will be in church, anyway.

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