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Portrait of a home-based business: Cynthia d'Entremont, Children's Book Author

Click here for previous entries in my Portrait of a Home Based Business series.

You guys, today I'm so excited to interview children's author Cynthia d'Entremont! She is the author of the dystopian young adult novel Unlocked as well as the new historical mystery Oak Island Revenge (published April 2012)

Many people hold up the idea of being a writer as the ultimate home-based business... Write a book and get it published and become instantly rich! It works like that... right? Well, apparently not...

So, when did you start writing? How did you decide to write books for young people?

Let me start by saying that I’m not one of those people who always wanted to be a writer. My childhood list of potential careers included cashier (they had all that money!), teacher, lawyer, and detective (thanks Miss Nancy Drew). Anyway, I loved to read and daydreamed constantly. After the birth of my first child, I decided to learn more about writing fiction for children and teens by taking a correspondence course. I chose to write for a younger audience because it seemed to fit with my settled upon career choice of teacher.

What, if anything, surprised you about what happens after your book is accepted by a publisher?

A writing teacher (Norene Smiley) once said that creating the story was really the most enjoyable part of the process of writing. At the time, I didn’t believe her because I thought holding the published book in my hand would be the crowning moment. I have since discovered Norene was right. Nothing compares with being lost in a world that your imagination has brought to life.

How great is the cover of her new book??

What resources did you use to help with your writing? Any grants? Particular websites or books you would recommend for people starting out?

The writing community in Nova Scotia is very blessed to have a strong Writers’ Federation ( I’ve been a member for about a dozen years and have benefitted from numerous workshops and courses offered. Local libraries, colleges, and provincial writing federations are a great place to start looking for resources and professional development. A few years ago, I attended a weeklong writing retreat after being awarded a provincial literary scholarship.

To begin building writing credits, I entered a few writing contests and sold some nonfiction articles. Everything is a step to becoming a better writer and having your work taken seriously. As far as books, I suggest reading the genre you would like to write. In my opinion, seeing how others build stories is a living, breathing “how to” book in action.

What else is involved in being a writer besides the actual writing?

Being willing to put yourself out there and meet readers and other writers is part of building a writing career. Thankfully, my background as a teacher makes school visits less daunting and I do find them enjoyable.

Cynthia's first book also had a stunning cover.

How have you been spreading the word about your writing?

This is tricky…sometimes writers can be reclusive about their craft. I stay on Facebook, maintain a website, visit schools, do workshops, book signings, speaking engagements, etc. I’m somewhat uncomfortable with promoting “me” but moving outside of a personal comfort zone is something I am willing to try!

What tips do you have for people who would like to get a book published? (i.e. is this a quick and easy way to make lots of money?)

Now that I’ve stopped laughing (and crying) about the “lots of money” I can answer this question. My motivation for writing fiction is that I feel compelled to do so…I am miserable without it. I dream of one day “making a living” from writing but for now, I teach to supplement my income.

As far as tips for being published, one of the most beneficial things I did was to join a writing critique group. I’ve learned that nothing I write is sacred and everything can be improved upon. I truly believe that anyone who doesn’t quit, and is willing to learn, can find success as a writer. If publishing is one’s measure of success, it’s achievable. However, I’m not convinced publication and success are equal.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Rejection is the lurking monster in every writer’s closet. When it pops its head out and gives you a fright, stare it in the eye and make it blink first.

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us, Cynthia! Check out her new book Oak Island Revenge, and keep up to date with her writing on her Facebook page or website.

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