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Author Interview: Kathryn Page Camp


Kathryn Page Camp is the author of Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal, a book for authors about anything and everything to do with legal issues for writers. Her first book, In God We Trust: How the Supreme Court’s First Amendment Decisions Affect Organized Religion, is also non-fiction for adults. Kathryn is a licensed attorney and lives in northwest Indiana with her husband.

Kathryn, I’m so happy to welcome you here! Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Like many writers, I started young. My first attempts to get published came in high school. I had some (unpaid) success with poetry but none with the short stories I sent out. Then I put it aside while I pursued a legal career that, fortunately, involved a lot of writing. I started writing for publication again about ten years ago and have been doing it full-time since I retired from my salaried legal position at the end of 2009. When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, photography, and sailing Lake Michigan with my husband of thirty-four years. We have two children and a son-in-law.

Writers in Wonderland is written in such a way that makes it easy for someone with no legal background to read and understand. What was the inspiration behind this book, and why did you feel a need to write it?

As a lawyer who is also a writer, I have long been interested in the legal issues that writers face. Through the years other writers have asked me legal questions that I was happy to answer or, in many cases, to research and then answer. Encouragement from my fellow writers became the primary motivation for writing the book.

What kind of research did you do to write your book?

I’m one of those geeks who enjoys research, and I believe in being thorough. That means I read a lot of court cases involving writers. I also read the federal laws on copyright and trademark.

I love the theme that runs through your book, which is based on Alice in Wonderland and other works by Lewis Carroll. How did you arrive at this title/theme for your book?

I’m not quite sure. I don’t remember why, but I used phrases from Alice in Wonderland for the chapter titles in one section. Someone from my writers’ critique group said they sounded out of place and I should either eliminate the references or expand them to the entire book. I had been looking for a way to make the book more interesting, so I chose the “expand” option. I’m glad I did, because finding passages that worked was half the fun of writing the book.

Did you face any challenges when writing this book?

Finding the right Lewis Carroll quotes was challenging but also fun. The hardest task was choosing which cases to use. If I had tried to read everything, I would still be reading. So I narrowed it down to three categories: (1) Supreme Court cases that every writer should know about, (2) cases that tell interesting stories, and (3) cases about celebrities. Of course, I also picked cases that make an important legal point.

What encouragement has helped you along your way?

Good critique partners were my best encouragement. That means the Highland Writers’ Group and my online critique partner, Celeste Charlene. My husband was supportive, too.

You are a licensed attorney. How does that experience inform, inspire, and affect your writing?

It’s both a blessing and a curse. On the blessings side, my legal training and experience have taught me to love research and to do it well. It also gives me something to write about: both of my published books involve legal issues. On the curse side, I have spent years trying to learn how NOT to write like a lawyer. I hope that Writers in Wonderland proves I’ve been successful.

Your current book is NF for adults, but you also write for children. Can you tell us a little about your writing life? Do you prefer writing NF over Fiction?

I prefer writing fiction, but it’s a lot harder to do right. The same is true of children’s books. I wrote two early chapter books intended to begin a series, but a couple of very helpful rejection letters made me realize how hard it is to age children’s books correctly. The books were too advanced for the level I was aiming at but too short for the next level up. My adult fiction hasn’t found a publisher yet, either, but I keep trying.

What projects are you currently working on?

My current project is contemporary women’s fiction, but I am also researching ideas for a middle grade historical novel.

Where do you turn for instruction and inspiration?

I attend at least one major writers’ conference every year. I also attend events sponsored by the Indiana Writers’ Consortium, the Indiana Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Indiana Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

What books have most influenced your life? What are you reading now?

In 100,000 words or less? While it’s hard to narrow it down, the greatest influence probably came from those authors I read vociferously as a child and during my high school and college years. The childhood favorites include Lucy Maude Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Kate Douglas Wiggin, and Frances Hodgson Burnett. High school and college saw me reading Grace Livingston Hill, George Elliot, Charles Dickens, and William Shakesphere. I also read a lot of mysteries in high school, including those by Ellery Queeen and Rex Stout. I later discovered Agatha Christie, who is my favorite mystery author.

More recently, I have been enjoying middle grade and young adult fiction. I just finished Walk Me Home by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Other recent books are Below by Meg McKinlay and The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone. And I loved, loved, loved The Life of Pi.

Kathryn, you and I met through the Indiana Writers Consortium (IWC) several years ago. How have you been involved in this organization for Indiana writers?

I am currently Secretary, web master, and blog master. I was President the previous two years and Secretary/Treasurer before that.

Do you have any advice for new or aspiring writers?

Read, read, and read some more, especially in the genre you are trying to write. The other important piece of advice is to learn your craft. It’s amazing how many beginning writers think that good grammar is all it takes. They don’t realize that you have to write sentences and paragraphs and chapters and books that keep the reader interested, and that requires understanding the craft. Attend writers’ conferences. Read books about writing. Get input from a critique group that points out the weaknesses as well as the strengths.

Are you interested in speaking to groups? If so, how can interested parties contact you?

I enjoy speaking to groups. More information can be found on my website at www.kathrynpagecamp.com, or contact me at kcamp@kathrynpagecamp.com.

Kathryn, it was a pleasure to interview you on my blog! Thank you so much for sharing your insight and your books with readers here.

You can find more about Kathryn and her writing at her website, or visit her blog at http://kathrynpagecamp.blogspot.com.

Kathryn’s books are available at Amazon and other online retailers and can be ordered from your favorite brick and mortar bookstore.

Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal
KP/PK Publishing 2013, ISBN-10: 0989250415, ISBN-13: 978-0989250412

In God We Trust: How the Supreme Court’s First Amendment Decisions Affect organized Religion, Faithwalk Publishing 2006, ISBN-10: 1932902600, ISBN-13: 978-1932902600  Read More 
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Another New Year and Resolutions

Is it 2011 already?! I'm still catching up with 2010!

It seems like my New Year's resolutions never change. At least not very much. I fall short of my goals. But each new year I start over. Some recurring resolutions include:

Read more
Write more
Submit more
Read all of my newsletters as soon as I get them
Read more blogs, author sites, etc.
Update my wesite more often and more fully

But maybe I should look a little closer at what I DID accomplish last year. Some things were:

Read a few books.
Wrote a few first drafts and revisions.
Submitted and had a poem published in Humpty Dumpty magazine.
Eventually read all of my newsletters.
Kept up with my weekly blog, most of the year.

And things accomplished, not on my list of new year's resolutions:
Joined Verla Kay's message board
Joined JacketFlap
Signed up for google analytics
Joined the speakers directory on SCBWI
Made a speakers video for the SCBWI directory (still waiting for that to be added)
Joined twitter (I don't know if I'll ever post there, but I'm on!)
Had my first Book Launch Party!
Did numerous author visits since NAME THAT DOG! was released in April
Attended the National SCBWI conference in LA (WOW!)
Signed up on GoodReads and posted my first book reviews.
Had my first online author interview on Janet Fox's website (http://bit.ly/9h0zPI), and again on the IWC website (http://www.indianawritersconsortium.org/).
Changed email service (a big job)

Personal events:
Our 6th grandchild came along!
Our daughter's wedding!
Branson with my sister and her husband
Las Vegas for the first time

Looking back over all that I DID acomplish is inspiring! So look out 2011! I'll be seeing you there.  Read More 
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The Road to Publishing

On october 28th, the Indiana Writers Consortium held their 2nd annual Writers' Banquet at Strongbow Inn in Valparaiso, IN. After dinner, a panel of authors moderated by Kathryn Page Camp discussed the Road to Publishing as it happened for them.

The panel consisted of: Kate Collins, mystery book author, Cynthia Echterling, science fiction author, Katherine Flotz, memoir author, Michael Poore, fiction author, and
yours truly (me), children's picture book author. (Photos are on the left).

One of the questions that we were asked was why we chose the publishing route that we did, and the pros and cons of each. I thought that I'd share this with you.

I chose to pursue children's books via traditional, or trade, publishing. I did not have any knowledge of marketing, sales or book promotion, nor did I have any interest in learning that part of it. I just wanted to write the stories. And with a growing family, I had little time or money for selling and promotion. I'm not sure what my expectations were at the time , but I decided to give it a try. I was lucky enough to find editors who liked what I wrote, and wanted to publish my books.

My first book was a Little Golden Book. After three revisions, I was offered a contract and they bought my book outright for a flat fee. I received no royalties, and was not notified when the book went out of print. It was a great experience, and validated my ability to write for children. But I decided that I wanted something more, and after that I sought out publishers who would pay an advance and royalties, and with whom I could be more involved.

Over 20 years later I sold my second book to Dial Books for Young Readers, and my third book was accepted by Candlewick Press six months later. During those 20+ years between my first and second sales, I learned to write better, and made occasional sales to children's magazines.

Some of the pros of publishing with a larger trade publisher are:

I do not pay any money to have my book published. Rather, the publisher pays me an advance, and when that advance is earned out by book sales, I receive royalty payments.

I am not required to do any marketing or sales. The publisher places my books in major bookstores, and markets them to libraries. My books are sold online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online bookstores. They are promoted on the publisher's website and in their catalogs. Pre-publication copies of my book are sent to major reviewers of children's books. Any book promotion that I do for my books is appreciated and helpful to sales, but I am not required to do any book promotion. Through my publsiher, my books have been picked up by Scholastic Book Club. They've been listed on the accelerated reading lists.

I work with an editor who makes suggestions for revisions that will improve my book. She is expereinced in publishing books for children, and that experience helps me to make good revisions.

The publisher chooses an illustrator who compliments my text. An Art Director works with the illustrator to create a book that is appealing to readers, both children and the adults reading to them.

Cons?

The publisher decides when the book goes out of print. At that time I can request that the rights be returned to me.

The publisher has the final word on the illustrations for my books. I do have some input, but they make the final decision. Sometimes the pictures are not what I had imagined, but I have to trust their judgment and experience in publishing children's books. And the final result has resulted in great picture books, with the story told through words and pictures together. It's exciting to see how my words inspire what the illustrator sees.

I'm happy with the route that I've chosen. I don't have total control, but I doubt that I have the knowledge or experience necessary to make my books as successful as they have been on my own. Thanks to all of the people behind the scenes who've helped do that part for me.

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Author interview on the web--Writers Picnic--Event Photos

I've finally added some photos here from my recent author events. Thanks to everyone who made my visits so enjoyable! The Book Launch Party for NAME THAT DOG! was great fun-- thanks to everyone who came to help celebrate my new book.

A special thank-you to YA author, Janet Fox, for interviewing me on her blogspot. You can find the interview at http://bit.ly/9h0zPI. While you're there, check out Janet's website at www.janetfox.com.

Writers of all genres are invited to the 2nd anual Indiana Writers Consortium picnic on July 17th, from noon to 4:00pm at the Community Park Lions Shelter in Munster, IN. Come and meet other local writers. Enjoy the games, and bid on items at the silent auction. Bring a dessert or side dish, and enjoy lunch and soft drinks which will be provided. For more information go to www.indianawritersconsortium.org. I hope to see you there!  Read More 
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The Other Side of Being an Author

Last week I attended the Indiana Writers Consortium dinner event on the Business of Writing. The company was superb, and the food was great. It was nice to meet new friends and spend time with the old ones.

I learned more about the not-so-much-fun side of writing-- the business side of writing. It's the part that horns in on your writing time. The part that makes you keep records, and sets deadlines. The part that defines you as a serious writer.

I love speaking to students and young children about my books and writing, and to adults about writing for children. The business side says I have to let people know that do this, including the what's and how's. I hope that my website and blog is a good start. And I hope to see you at your school or library, or at an event for children's writers, one day.  Read More 
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