Hello, Penny! I am so glad you are here today.
Tell us a bit about you where are from and other than writing what else do you enjoy?
Hi, Eve and readers! It’s a pleasure to visit your blog. I live near Waco and write from my horse ranch. I love creating, repurposing, and illustrating. I also love to read. Currently, I’m re-reading books I’ve had on my shelf for over 20 years.
How did you start writing? What was your inspiration to create?
The best way to answer is “I was born a storyteller.” I love telling stories. I wrote a sad poem about clown when I was in second grade. It won the newspaper contest and was published as the first place winner. From the time I saw my name in print, I knew my true form of communication was writing. I could express myself, my feelings, my inner thoughts through words and people understood me, connected with me, saw me. That’s what makes me write.
Who is your favorite author, is there anyone out there that inspires you?
I read so many children’s books during my years of teaching middle school, and if I had to pick an author for that genre, it would be Jerry Spinnelli. I am also an avid fan of Dean Koontz. I love his Odd Thomas series, though I haven’t had time to read the last few books in the series.
What genre do you enjoy reading? What’s your favorite book and why?
I love fiction in all aspects, and some non fiction. My reading favorites are humor, fantasy, and suspense. I’m not a big fan of “fad” books. I like to read books with staying power.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
About the only aspect of my writing that changed after my first book was accepted for publication is my revision process. I already knew I needed to polish and then polish more, but the actual process of working with a publishing house editor was daunting. It was great, but after a while I was done. I can go over my work continuously for… ever, and it not be “finished”. At one point, the editor had to tell me, “That’s it!” and so I learned to tell myself that.
If you’ve published a series, what is the series about?
Actually, I’ve published two series and one trilogy. The trilogy is a superhero tale about twelve teens with unusual gifts. The second series is a school humor series about a boy who in making the right choices, he makes the wrong choices. In the first book, he uses teacher’s stapler to fix items he’s broken. In the second, he tries to help a stray dog. In the third, his imagination literally runs wild while writing a story for class. I wrote that series under my other pseudonym. The third series is about a traveling saddle who enjoys helping friend on her travels to Texas Festivals.
What was it like creating back to back stories that link?
I love series writing because the character gets to come back. I’ve had numerous readers of my single books ask me if those books will become series. To me, that’s a testament to the staying power of my characters and storylines. I love hearing that. I just need more time to write. There’s never enough time.
Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? If you could, what genre would you like to dabble in?
Yes, I have thought about writing a self help book, but it’s not what I really want to spend time doing. I’ve also considered coffee table books, but again, I love telling stories.
What has been your most proud moment as an author?
It’s hard to pick one moment, so I’ve narrowed it down to two. The first moment was at a book festival in College Station. A young couple bought my first picture book, Master Stinky Dances, for their eighteenth month old. They visited with me for a bit while thumbing through the book with him, then handed him the book and set him down to walk. As they moved to another table, he sat on the floor and turned the pages. My pictures connected with him. The second time was after a Sally the Travelin’ Saddle reading when a young man asked me, “What is the theme of your book?” I promptly asked him, “What do you think the themes is?” After our exchange, his teacher–who was excited beyond words–approached and asked if I had an extra copy. She wanted to buy for her room because that young man never interacted in class. I almost cried.
Was there ever a time you wanted to pick up your laptop, and then launch it out the window with frustration?
Only due to programs or computer related issues. Never over writing. I’ve grown so used to typing stories on my computer that my handwriting is horrible.
Are you a “plotter” or a fly by the seat of your pants “pantster” as a writer?
I’m a head plotter and writing pantster. I do a great deal of planning in my mind before I sit down to write. The magic happens when I begin writing, though. The stories just grow. The characters write them. Then I revise, revise, revise and edit and send it to an editor, and maybe revise some more.
Am I the only one who gets hung up on commas? Do they make you go blah! when you’re writing?
I don’t pay any attention to commas. I add them, or don’t. I worry over the story. I let my editor worry about commas. She tells me what to do with those commas. Sometimes I listen, sometimes I don’t.
What three tips would you give any aspiring writer?
- Tip 1: Write every day even if you don’t feel like it.
- Tip 2: Don’t skip revision and editing.
- Tip 3: Never give up on your writing goals or dreams.
What are you working on now? What will you release next?
Now that the third festival book is “put to bed”, I’m going to complete the rough draft for The Gifted Ones The Spiral. That is my next big project. I’m also illustrating a book for another author, which has to be finished also.
So.. where can we get your books?
The easiest place to find them all is at www.geanpenny.com, or www.pgshriver.com. You will find them at any online retailer and a few brick and mortar bookstores here and there. If you ask for them at a bookstore and it’s not in stock, they can order it. You might even find them in a few libraries.
How would you define what being a successful writer means?
To me, being a successful writer is accomplishing your writing goals one at a time. If your goal is to make a living writing, and your doing so, you’re successful. If your goal is to touch the lives of your readers, and you’ve received reviews that say so, then you’re successful. To me, being successful is being happy and making others happy to have known me through my characters. Sure, I would love to spend all my time writing and make a living from it, but that doesn’t constitute success to me. Happiness defines success, and I’m pretty happy with my books and readings and writing daily, so I guess I can say I’m successful.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I think it depends on the genre they are writing. Some writers can play that, some can’t. If you have an ego that negatively affects your sales, then it’s hurting you, but if it increases your sales because people just have to know why you are that way, then it’s working.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I research anything I don’t know while I’m writing. If I am unfamiliar with a place I’m writing about, I drive there, take pictures, scope it out. I’ve done that several times for a few romance books I’m working on. To tell a story people connect with, you have to research.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Reviews are for buyers. I only read reviews over books I’m considering as a purchase. I love to hear from librarians, teachers, students through email, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media with comments about my work or presentation. And, I’ve been known to use their comments as “true reviews” for my website.
What was your hardest scene to write?
My hardest scene to write the twist in Dead Perfect. I cried while I was writing it. I wanted Mel to find her happiness, and then I gave her grief! How can a writer do that to a character that has grown so close to them? Yikes! I did it, though! I think I had to leave my computer three times before I finished writing that section.
What’s your writing schedule like?
I try to write every morning. There are times I write in the evening after work, like now. Whenever it’s quiet, I spend time illustrating or writing.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
There are a few authors I can call friends, but I really don’t have time for socializing except on Facebook. I see them at festivals and we hug and talk and inspire each other. They are in the children’s book arena also, and there’s no jealousy, no spite. It’s great to have friends you can talk to about your work or marketing or travel. I consider that crazy chick (get it?), Barn Town Eve a friend! And there’s Kathleen Shields who writes the Hamilton Troll series. There’s also, Connie Peck who writes horse stories.
How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book?
I have so many ideas. I have to record them all. Then I sit down, after a little time of thinking, and start writing! Beginnings are my favorite to write. My process is the same every time. Where I need research, I stop and locate what I need. The length of time from start to finish of a book varies depending on the book. The Gifted Ones Trilogy should have been completed in 2016, but I’m still working on the rough draft. I can usually complete a picture book in about a month including illustrations, given the time to work on it eight hours a day.
How have your family and friends accepted your career as a writer? Are they supportive?
My family is very supportive. I think they’ve finally come to the point where they’ve stopped listening when I say, “That would make a good book!”
Wait! Maybe they’re giving up on me!
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
No, I don’t base my characters off real people. They live inside my head awaiting their arrival to the page. Perhaps a little of every person I encounter becomes a part of a character, but on one character is based off one person I’ve met.
What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?
Sally the Travelin’ Artist is my latest rhyming picture book. Sally was inspired by book festival decor. Her story began where all saddles make it as festival decoration, at the Giddings, Texas Library and Cultural Center. Sally the Travelin’ Artist is the third book and is set in Central Texas–destination Killeen for Take 190 West. The release date is April 30. I am inspired by everything life offers.
Where would you like to travel to and why?
One of the places on my bucket list is Alaska. I’ve traveled to many states in North America, and I’ve been to Canada. I’ve always wanted to visit France, but it’s not a place I have to go now. The only other place I would love to travel to is some of the islands, not Hawaii, but maybe the Bahamas, or Jamaica, or St. Thomas. I love the beach and clear water and wilderness! Those are perfect writing and inspiration places!
Tell us about how you develop your characters?
That’s a good question. Readers have touted me for developing strong characters, but the truth is I don’t develop my characters; they develop me. Each of my characters is a bit of me, and each time I write from my character’s perspective, I become more developed and complete. I picture the process as Noah opening the Arc doors. I open the door, and the characters pour themselves out onto the page.
Which one of your characters is your favorite and why?
That’s tough. I’m partial to Cheater, in The Gifted Ones The Fairytale. On some levels, she’s me at that age, without that spectacular gift. I mean, my gift is spectacular (speaking of ego), but not like hers. I relate to her on so many levels. She’s a good kid who’s suffered in her life, but she never gives up and never gives in.
What would you like readers to know?
I’m excited to share that I’ve created a Patreon writing blog where my fans can subscribe and interact with me while I complete those writing projects I’m working on! I’ve included some great subscriber rewards like free books, free image downloads, Google Hangouts with me to talk writing and wine, or Hangouts for the classroom to talk writing with students. I love the idea of interacting with readers. The opening idea for The Gifted Ones The Spiral was inspired by a comment one of my readers made about a comic con costume. Love the opening! So, if you’re a reader and you want early access to my work, hop on over to https://www.patreon.com/pgshriver and get some!
Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Barn Town Eve!
P. G. Shriver Website