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Day 11 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: April Henry

April Henry and I had crossed paths a couple of times at literary events and I knew I wanted to invite her to the Northwest Author Series. So, I did and she was terrific when she came this last fall. I am a sucker for a presenter who can a slew of great writing tips, and April turns out to be the queen of tips. She packed more helpful tips into her presentation than I have ever heard before. In fact, they were so good that I will link to them here. Please help me welcome, April!

When April Henry was 12, she sent a short story about a six-foot tall frog who loved peanut butter to noted children’s author Roald Dahl. He liked it so much he arranged to have it published in an international children’s magazine. Her dream of writing went dormant until she was in her 30s, working at a corporate job, and started writing books on the side.  Now she’s a New York Times bestselling author who makes a living doing what she loves. She has written 11 mysteries and thrillers for adults and teens.

Novel Description:

Elizabeth Avery could easily be the girl next door. But what she has planned will make your blood run cold. At first glance, the crimes appear random. Arson. Theft. Fraud. Murder. But these are more than random crimes. They’re moves in an increasingly deadly game. And the one element they have in common: a woman who is gorgeous, clever . . . and lethal. When Elizabeth ruthlessly disposes of an inquisitive young reporter, her crime catches the attention of Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce, FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges, and crime reporter Cassidy Shaw. They know they’re dealing with a cold-blooded murderer who could strike at any time. What they don’t know is that they’re already on a first-name basis with the killer.

1. How has writing (either just the act of writing or writing this book or both) impacted your self-confidence?

It took me years to identify myself as a writer and not feel like a fraud. Even when I had a few books published, it felt like someone was going to catch on and say it had all been a mistake.  I am finally more confident and believe that I actually am a writer.
2. What are three words that describe your creative book-writing process?

Dogged.  Determined. And occasionally, Delighted.
3. What good has your book created in the world?

I give people a few hours where they can forget their workaday lives.

• • •

Roald Dahl arranged to have April’s piece published. What’s the nicest gesture someone else has made to support your writing? Or share a memorable response to your work that has stayed with you over the years.

Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win one of today’s books). Please read the complete rules at least once!

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway! Please bring a small crowd next time you come. :)

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  • Heidi Smith Luedtke May 11, 2011, 6:33 pm

    A reader of one of my articles posted the following comment on my blog: “I just read your article in the new Okanagan Child magazine. It was a
    divine intervention that someone dropped it off at my work and the first
    page I opened was your words. I am a stressed out single Mom of a very
    spirited 3 1/2 year old and your words brought tears to my eyes. I needed
    to hear that it was ok to not be a superhero and that asking for help
    doesn’t mean you are weak or a “bad mom”. Rather that I need to for both
    myself and my daughter. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and am
    telling EVERYONE about you. You have lit something inside me and I am
    seeing a light at the end of the tunel for the first time in a long
    time.” BEST RESPONSE EVER. Hands down.

  • Mjcwriter May 11, 2011, 6:38 pm

    I kept the email – so I could read it again and again and again. (Of course it will only make me beam, and not get me that book deal unless, I also WRITE and WRITE and WRITE!) Former Writers’ Digest editor (and my former teacher) Jordan Rosenfeld replied to my revision assignment in her class “Revise for Publication” “You really are a natural. I keep meaning to tell you that I really love your writing and your characters! You are very close to nailing this scene.” SQUEAL!!!

  • Lara May 11, 2011, 6:59 pm

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    I took as many creative writing courses as electives in
    college as my business student schedule would bear. At the time I focused on
    short stories and received positive feedback from my professors and classmates. But
    the incident that still stands out in my mind is when one professor explained
    that he did readings at a local nursing home and asked if he could take one of
    my stories along to share with the residents. As far as I knew he hadn’t made the same request of anyone else in my class. I felt so validated that someone
    who saw the work of dozens upon dozens of students, year after year, saw
    something special in my writing.

  • Diane J. May 11, 2011, 7:00 pm

    The nicest thing? Well, this one gal gave me a scholarship to one of her classes. It came at a time in my writing where I was frustrated with myself. I wanted to take her class, but it was one of those years where everything had to break. Everything. The truck needed tires, brakes, and rotors. The washing machine bit the dust. One of my twins visited the ER twice (I want a preferred customer card), and well, the list could go on.

    Needless to say, our savings took a huge hit that year. And my confidence in writing was at an all time low.

    I sent in the scholarship paperwork and this gal took a chance on me and awarded me the scholarship. Two of the articles I wrote in her class have been published (multiple times).

    Thanks Christina! Your support was the nicest gesture I have ever received.

  • Sandi Haustein May 11, 2011, 9:38 pm

    When I was a missionary in West Africa, I sent out monthly e-mail newsletters to keep all of my friends, family, and supporters up to date on my life and work. After sending out a few, a mentor’s wife wrote to me to say that out of all the newsletters they got, she always took the time to read mine because my words were captivating.

    Also, when I took my first creative writing class as an adult, I wrote an essay about my experiences in Africa and my re-entry to America. My teacher, in her comments,encouraged me to write more and said that it would be a shame to waste my words. It was the first time that I realized I really had something to say.

  • Maribeth May 11, 2011, 11:23 pm

    There are two gestures I won’t forget. The first was by you Christina. I was just starting to educate myself on the craft and stumbled upon your blog. You were talking about the importance of blogs. I asked how to set one up and you e-mailed me and walked me through it until I had an active blog over at Wordpress, that really meant a lot to me.

    Another was from a woman that began following me on Twitter. She often would leave comments telling me that she knew one day I would make it big (always boosted my confidence) and then finally arranged to give me my first literary interview on her internet radio talk show.

  • Sara May 12, 2011, 1:14 am

    My boyfriend is so great at supporting my writing, and tolerating the weirder aspects of it. I’m very much an inspiration-writer, and if something comes to me, sorry world- gotta write. So in the middle of a sentence I can cut him off with “I have to write something”, and he just backs away without a word while I scurry to the computer. If I’m in the middle of writing he never bothers me and waits until I let him know I’m done. I know a lot of people don’t have this situation, and I’m very thankful for the support.

  • Judy May 12, 2011, 1:32 am

    I’ve only been writing for three years, so I have little to go back on. The one memory that comes to mind is when I read my published essay “Souls Speak” (a story about my youngest son) to an audience of women at a writing conference. I didn’t plan on reading, but decided to at the last minute. I had a copy of my essay with me on my computer and a flash drive. The hotel was kind enough to print it out. I was the third person to read after the keynote and I was shaking. I read and when I looked I saw many wiping their eyes of tears. The keynote stood up as I walked by and pulled me into her arms telling me how beautiful my story was, how touched she was. I could see the emotion in her face. Oh, wow…

  • Michele Thornton May 12, 2011, 1:57 am

    The nicest response I’ve gotten to my writing so far was from a potential agent. It’s one of those things I re-read occasionally to remind myself that I can and will find a home for my novels. “I found myself becoming very involved with the story and how
    things would work out. As I read, I realized what a terrific premise you have. As
    a fan of mythology and classic stories in general, I really like to see when
    authors take new spins on old tales. With the recent success of the Percy
    Jackson books, I feel a story based on
    could fit well into the market. I also like the main character
    being someone from outside the world of the Greeks and the Trojans.”

  • Adrienne Ross Scanlan May 12, 2011, 2:45 am

    Odd as it sounds, the nicest gestures towards my writing have come from rejection letters. Yes, I really did say that!

    I’ve pretty much lost my writing community since my daughter was born (no classes, no critique groups, rarely a conference or workshop), so often the only reader response I have to my writing comes from editors who say: “This moved me…There is much to admire here…You are a wonderful writer…Please send something else…”Being only human, I can get very frustrated when an editor says “I loved this and am rejecting it, now send me something else”, but the reality is, in a busy work day in a crazy profession, an editor stopped, read, reflected, and wrote me a personal rejection letter. Sometimes all I want to say is: “But this is all I have!” Often it is all I have to send. At that moment in time. But a door has opened, and I will re-submit to that magazine again…which means writing something new or revising something old…which means keeping pieces in play…all of which means that something, at some time, will get accepted despite those rejections.But I also like getting acceptances!

  • Malia Jacobson May 12, 2011, 3:47 am

    Readers have said some nice things, and I love my editors, but
    the biggest supporter of my writing is far and away my husband. He whisks the
    girls to the park so I can conduct interviews in peace. He picks up the slack
    (and picks up a pizza) when I have a deadline. He misses out on evening with me
    so that I can chase my writing dreams after the kids are asleep. Without him, I
    wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

  • Mar Junge May 12, 2011, 7:01 am

    After years of wondering if I had any talent as a fiction writer I finally mustered the courageage to join a novel writing class taught by novelist Floyd Salas an d his wife Claire Ortaldad, my former business partner. They encouraged me and gave me the confidence to keep writing. Everyone has talent —some more than others. But hard work and determination can level e playing field. A good teacher and mentor is invaluable.

  • Anonymous May 14, 2011, 4:57 am

     Thanks, Diane. 🙂

  • Cara Holman May 14, 2011, 6:44 pm

    When I first started submitting writing for publication, I have to admit
    it was kind of discouraging. I would submit, wait and hope, and often
    hear nothing back, even when I queried once or twice. “Why bother?” I
    started thinking. But I persevered because I really wanted not just to
    see my writings in print, but more importantly, to make connections with

    It was about this time that I started my blog. While originally
    it was just a place to capture the poems that I was writing in April
    for NaPoWriMo, soon I started getting feedback in the form of comments,
    some from people I knew in real life, and some from complete strangers.
    For the first time, I stopped feeling like my writings were going off
    into a void. Instead I had become an active member of a worldwide
    community of writers. I still love seeing my writing in print—who
    doesn’t?—but I equally value the wonderful give and take from readers
    who suddenly don’t feel like complete strangers anymore.