Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Inside Scoop: Interview with Kimberley Griffiths Little

My daughter once told me that she hopes to open an ice cream shop named "What's the Scoop?" Isn't that awesome? It has absolutely nothing to do with my post today, other than word association, but here is the scoop from author Kimberley Griffiths Little! My questions are in blue, her responses in black.

Welcome, Kimberley! Let's get to business! Do you have a typical writing day?

I wish I had a typical writing day!

Every day is different because STUFF always happens. (I strongly suspect I am not alone in this!) 

But here is the Typical Writing Day I’m always *trying* to have – and in which I succeed about 50% of the time:

I’m usually up no later than about 6:30. Been trying for 6:00 a.m. – which is hard when I stay up late reading!

After gulping down my vitamins with ice water, a banana and yogurt, I exercise, shower, and try to be out the door no later than 7:30 - 8:00 a.m.

Emails and business and blogging and social media take about 3 hours a day in some form or another and I tend to get sucked in first thing. I’m obsessive about my email and it drives me crazy to have unanswered emails in my Inbox!

I also include some form of spiritual reading/prayer, meditation time – hopefully before lunchtime!

Research and/or reading


Writing or Revision or Plotting


Writing, etc. Fix Dinner, Errands, appts, meetings, SCBWI schmoozes, bills, take care of kiddos, phone calls from my long-distance family, prepping lessons or school visits or talks or presentations...

My husband tells me that I constantly put too much on my To Do List – and I always wish I could accomplish more each day. Why are we never satisfied? :-)

Whew! I agree with your husband. I need a nap now. *lays down* Can you share a bit about your creative process?

I’m a big 3x5 card plotter. When I’m starting a new idea and brainstorming I throw everything I come up with, ideas, notes, etc into a notebook or Word document; bits of research, potential scenes, character traits, sometimes dialogue, plot points, opening lines, potential climax, etc.

After I’ve spent a few weeks thinking about the story, and usually a brainstorming lunch session with my crit partner, Carolee Dean, as well, (I’m very lucky she is a brilliant brainstormer) I sit down and do 3x5 card plotting. I’ve done this for about 6-7 book projects now. It’s such a fun and easy way to plan your book out and then see your whole *book* spread across the table or floor to organize and develop further.

I’m a guest author at WriteOnCon, the biggest online writing conference August 14-15 – AND I’m doing a video about 3x5 card plotting so don’t miss it! Go here for all the details and to sign up! It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s truly fabulous. Authors, Agents, and Editors. Live Chats. Blog Posts. Videos. Tons of info for aspiring and published writers.

Great! I'm 'attending' WriteOnCon and want to hear more about your 3x5 card plotting. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?

I love the research because it is so darn fascinating. My YA debut is the launch of a trilogy Fall 2013 with Harpercollins, a novel about the roots of belly dance in the ancient world and the goddess temples with a sweeping, epic romance. The research is completely engrossing. So many juicy details on every page! I’m also a belly dancer myself and the history and culture fascinate me. I also love Egypt, Paris, Edinburgh, and castles. I stayed in a haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle once. Didn’t sleep a wink!

On the Writing Front: I’m a much bigger lover of drafting rather than revising. I love when the story pours out and I can’t type fast enough. Revision can be daunting trying to clean up a big, huge mess and figure it all out.

Hhaaa! I recently blogged about how I didn't love revision but have grown to, but there is nothing quite like the times when writing pours from your fingers. Why have you chosen to write for kids?

Mostly because I never stopped reading children’s and young adult books. Books were my best friends growing up because I was painfully shy (so shy I could hardly talk!). The world of a kid is still so magical and wondrous. I think the world of children’s lit contains some of the best and most groundbreaking writing going on today. The best part is that finally adults are devouring MG and YA books, too. At last they see the light!

Yes, hooray for adults reading MG and YA! My blog readers should know how much I love MG, and I do throw in a YA novel here and there too. :-) What bits of wisdom or advice would you be willing to share with other writers?

Most writers don’t talk very openly about how hard and daunting it can be to write an entire novel, polish it, get an agent, and then a publisher. We’re embarrassed to admit it can take years. Decades! It did for me. I also submitted my work much too early. Take the time to learn your craft. Find a critique group. Write a LOT. And I mean write a LOT. And read a lot. Study the best books. Enjoy the journey, too, and friends in the writing community are priceless. My journey has been long and arduous and full of pitfalls and orphaned books and leaving one agent to acquire my dream agent. A dozen “practice” novels. So many rejection letters I’ve lost count. But I kept going and never gave up, even if it meant having a good cry and taking a break once in awhile! I kept writing new work and I kept polishing old work until something *stuck*.

Such great words for writers. Thank you! I've read rumors that you have a writing cottage. Can you confirm or deny the rumor for us? If it is indeed true, how does it enhance your writing life?

The rumors are true! It’s about 7 months old now and I’ve been slowly getting furniture and curtains and putting up pictures. After I had a roof, walls and a door, I worked at a card table for 3 months while my desk got lost in warehouses around the country. I love the peace and quiet, the ability to focus. I’ve never had an office, just a desk in my bedroom or the kitchen. To have my own space at last makes my life as a writer all feel more real—as long as I don’t fall asleep on the couch!

When I sold the YA trilogy to Harpercollins the offer was so tremendous I knew that *now* was the time to make my writing cottage dream come true. My husband supported me fully and my brother who is a contractor built it for me—his wife and kids came down with him and we had a blast building it together in only a week (although the wild snowstorm the day he arrived from out of state nearly stopped us. We poured concrete in 15 degrees and the truck froze). It was kind of like an old-fashioned barn raising. Now I even have a daybed for reading - and windows on every single side for views and light.

That sounds (and looks!!) about perfect. I'm sure some of my blog readers now have cottage envy. What has surprised you the most about your writing journey?

#1. How hard it is, and what a slow learner I was! Back in the day I didn’t know any other writers so I just read books about writing. I didn’t know SCBWI existed or writing groups and conferences. They make a huge difference in helping you with your craft, in getting to know the business, as well as providing supportive friends – friends who *get* it on your journey. And friends who will cry with you during the rejection years - and then take you to lunch.

#2. I have also been astounded by how truly wonderful and generous and nurturing a good editor can be. I’m blessed with two now (one at Scholastic and the other at Harpercollins). Each editor has a different style, but they are both terrific for me and feed me and support me in different ways.

  #3. The other thing that has surprised me is that the work, the writing, the discipline and dedication has not stopped. In fact, it’s ramped up. No longer can I dabble for months with The Muse and an idea. If I want a book out every year (a MG in the Spring and a YA in the Fall which happens for the first time in 2013) I need to be constantly brainstorming, plotting, drafting, revising, researching, revising again, promoting, and getting ready for book launches with all its attendant 10,000 details.

I’m still learning to enjoy the journey, to not go crazy (at least not more than once a day!), and to keep loving the writing most of all because that’s where it all begins.

Ahhhhh. Great closing words--enjoy the journey. Thank you so much, Kimberley! Don't forget there is a giveaway of Kimberley's Circle of Secrets still open. Scroll to the post below. And . . . I'll leave you with the beauty that is the cover of Kimberley's next middle grade book.


  1. Great interview Kimberley and Barbara. I loved hearing about Kimberley's writing process. And I love the cottage. Can't wait to hear about the index cards at WriteOnCon.

  2. So envious of the cottage. I'd love to have that someday. Or just a room in the house.

  3. I was really surprised at the pictures of the inside of the cottage. I don't know what I expected--but it wasn't that!
    Thanks for a great interview Barbara and Kimberly!

  4. First - I love your daughter's name for her ice cream shop! An entrepreneur already - and a creative one at that! ;)

    I LOVE the idea of a writer's cottage. That's so great! I also really liked looking at Kimberely's schedule and her admission that writing/publishing can take a while. ;) Great interview ladies!

  5. Good luck to Kimberly and her books and all! I could use a new man-cave, but the kids would take over and use it for their stuffed animals and such.

  6. Incredibly inspiring interview! I'll be looking forward to her books :)

  7. Great interview and great tips. Now I really want a writing cottage.

  8. Good post! I heart Kimberly!

  9. Love the interview Barbara! And the name your daughter came up with for an ice cream shop! In college I had to create a business plan and used an ice cream shop I named Yummy's (I think that's how I spelled it...)

    Ahh... now I will have to think up different questions to use in my interview with Kimberley. :-) Just finished Circle of Secrets (late) last night and really enjoyed it!

  10. This interview is so beautiful and thought-provoking. Kimberley, I love your honesty about the business of writing and publishing. I also love that you were not afraid to let us know that your offer from HarperCollins was significant enough that you had your dream cottage built. That's so inspiring--not that I'm suddenly dreaming of getting that kind of offer one day--but it's just nice to hear about someone else's dreams coming true. Thank you for sharing that with us. :)

  11. Great interview! Can't wait for Kimberley's WriteOnCon presentation, I'm very curious how she does the 3x5 cards.

  12. Another HUGE thank you to Kimberley for the time and effort and honesty she placed in these responses--right in the middle of deadlines for her editor.

  13. Great interview! I definitely have cottage envy right now, haha!

  14. Such great motivation and advice, Kimberly. Thanks so much for sharing. Nice to know so many writers truly earn their spot with publishers. Here's to never giving up!
    And total cottage envy!! That is so awesome! Love love love it! :D

  15. Oh, this is wonderful. I love interviews, and I identify with too much of what she said to mention, especially her reasons for writing for kids. And yes, TOTAL cottage envy. :)

  16. After learning about Circle of Secrets it was so fun to learn more about Kimberly. I am so jealous of the cottage! But I am happy for her that she has such a nice place to write. All of her advice is excellent- there is so much to absorb.

    I look forward to reading her book and wish her much success! I can't wait to see her presenation on WriteOnCon.

  17. There was so much in this post that I can't possibly comment on it all without my taking more space than the post itself. Lovely. However, if I could move into that cottage I would in a heartbeat. Thanks for the wonderful pictures of it.

    Here's to Kimberley's success!

  18. OMG, I want that cottage! *drools*
    Great interview, thanks Kimberly and Barbara. It's nice to know I'm not the only one with a very variable writing day who gets sucked into social media stuff for a few hours.

  19. What a great interview. I enjoyed reading it! The pictures of the cottage were great too. I need a place like that. :)

  20. I love all these comments, everyone. So much. Thank you, thank you for all the kind words and kudos!

    And MANY thanks to Barbara for interviewing me and showing such support to middle-grade authors! YAY for MG books!

    If anybody ever has a question please feel free to email me: kglittle at

  21. No kidding about the 10,000 details. I feel like I'm drowning in them. But oh, for a writing cottage!!! Love it!!! And I am soooo buying that belly dancing story when it comes out.


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