Reader's Quote:

These books will even capture the attention and imagination of reluctant readers. Here’s a quote from Justin - a fourth grader who would normally rather do anything rather than sit and read a book:

“I thought it was funny because at the baseball game when Barton’s clone puts the ball in his mouth and won’t take it out. You should see – look – I’ll show you the picture. (Laughing) He puts the ball in his mouth and won’t take it out!”

Guests:

Guest Author

Author: H.B. HomzieInterview with H.B. Homzie

Author of Two Heads Are Better Than One
and Who Let the Dogs Out?

Hillary Homzie is the author of the early chapter book series Alien Clones from Outer Space.

What did you want to be when you grew up? When did you know you would be a writer?
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. I loved making up stories. When I was dealing with the outside world, I was serious, introverted and self-doubting. However, when I dipped into my imagination, I was silly, extroverted and confident. As long as I was playing some game of pretend, let’s say corralling the neighborhood kids into questing for a princess who was bound up in an invisible tower in the woods, I was a spirited leader. In the classroom, when the conversation was about who liked who and what clothes to buy, I was almost mute. I just didn’t get day-to-day conversation, so mostly I just listened. I think all of that observing has served me as a writer. However, I’m not sure how well it serves me as an every day functioning person.

Where do you find your inspiration for the Alien Clone Series? Do you base your stories on real events?
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. I loved making up stories. When I was dealing with the outside world, I was serious, introverted and self-doubting. However, when I dipped into my imagination, I was silly, extroverted and confident. As long as I was playing some game of pretend, let’s say corralling the neighborhood kids into questing for a princess who was bound up in an invisible tower in the woods, I was a spirited leader. In the classroom, when the conversation was about who liked who and what clothes to buy, I was almost mute. I just didn’t get day-to-day conversation, so mostly I just listened. I think all of that observing has served me as a writer. However, I’m not sure how well it serves me as an every day functioning person.

How long does it take you to write one of your stories? What is the longest process for you? The first draft? Revisions? The editing process? Waiting to see what the book cover looks like?
It probably takes me about six weeks to write the first draft of an alien clone book, another week or so doing the first round of edits and another week here or there of looking at galleys and illustration. The biggest phase of time for me is the pre-writing. I have been known to keep stories around in my head for five to ten years before writing the first word. Then I’ll probably spend a month coming up with my story and getting a synopsis and outline going. So for me, the pre-writing is definitely the hardest part. In writing young adult fiction, the rewrites can be more intense. However, I love edits because it means that I’m armed with a road map of where I need to go. When I am generating a story is when I feel the most insecure and vulnerable.

What sets early chapter books apart from other types of writing for children?
Chapter books are to novels what training pants are to underwear. They give children confidence that they can write books without a picture every page, a form where the gratification is not immediate (as in picture books). Unlike middle grade novels, there is not much of subplot or important secondary characters. They differ from Easy-to-Reads in that the vocabulary is a bit more developed and the sentence structure more complex. Chapter books are interesting in that kindergartners and first graders love to hear them as read out-louds while most second and third graders read them silently to themselves. I have fans as young as four to twelve years-olds (mostly reluctant readers or bright kids who want a pleasure break).

What were your favorite stories growing up? Do you think your own writing bears the influence of certain authors?
When I was in second grade I really loved the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I remember reading a volume over and over. At that age, I also really loved Little Women and all kinds of biographies. Additionally, I loved funny books like Pippi Longstocking. I went through a witch phase and reading and loving The Witch of Blackbird Pond and sillier books like
Little Witch. As an older elementary school student, I was taken with the resonant fiction of Judy Blume and Norma Klein. As a middle school student, I was firmly into fantasy and spent a year only reading the Dragonslayer books of Anne McCaffrey and anything by Ursula K. LeGuin. In high school, I was probably all over the map, but I especially remember loving the young adult novels of Paul Zindel. No doubt my writing had been influenced by all of the wonderful authors that I have read. I definitely think my alien clones books represent the younger part of me -the part enchanted with the possibility of what-ifs and silly humor.

What is the best way to break into children's publishing? Should one seek an agent or submit directly to the publisher?
The best way to break into children’s publishing is to concentrate on your writing. Write, write, write. And also I definitely recommend joining the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. Check out their website at: scbwi.org. Not only do they have a wonderful bimonthly newsletter with up-to-date market information and great articles but you can hook into critique groups that will help you take your writing through the drafting process and make it market-ready. If you join Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBW&I), you will also have the opportunity to meets lots of editors so you can submit directly right to them. The other important component is to read all kinds of children’s books and stay up-to-date with what is being published currently by perusing children’s bookstores. Having an agent can be great but they can be harder to get than a publisher so I think joining SCBW&I is your secret weapon of access.

Do you have any words of wisdom to inspire the rest of us?

Write what you want to read. Write what makes you happy. Don’t worry about trying to impress. Remember why you started writing in the first place.

 

Lots of Laughs with H.B. Homzie’s Alien Clones From Outer Space Series

What’s it take to write engaging fiction for children? Well, take a moment to feel like a kid again and read the first two books in the The Alien Clones From Outer Space Series: Two Heads Are Better Than One and Who Let The Dogs Out? by H.B. Homzie. I have always maintained the stand that as writers we need to read a variety of different genres and writing styles – and that includes fiction for kids. Classic works are great – everything from Little Women to The Great Gatzby, but since we no longer live in the era those books were written in, we also need to read what’s current. And to capture the imagination of younger readers, there must be something to compete with mind-numbing television and the hand-eye coordination flashiness of Play Station. H.B. Homzie gives kids something that will hold their attention and make reading fun.

Book: Two Heads Are Better Than One

Two Heads Are Better Than One
By H. B. Homzie
Published by Aladdin Paperbacks,
a division of Simon and Schuster
Children’s Publishing Division
.

Text Copyright 2002 H.B. Homzie
Illustrations Copyright 2002 Matt Phillips

Two Heads Are Better Than One is an easy chapter book for first through fourth graders.  It is a well-written book with a good character-based plot.  The main characters are a boy named Barton and his sister Nancy, two normal kids leading normal lives until their clones from outer space show up.

 

 

Book: Who Let the Dogs Out?

Who Let the Dogs Out?
By H. B. Homzie
Published by Aladdin Paperbacks,
a division of Simon and Schuster
Children’s Publishing Division
.

Text Copyright 2002 H.B. Homzie
Illustrations Copyright 2002 Matt Phillips

I didn’t think it was possible, but this second installment in the Alien Clones From Outer Space Series is even funnier than the first. In this story, Barton and his sister Nancy have promised to mind a pet store for the owner while she does inventory. That was before they found out there was a chance to win tickets and backstage passes to a concert by the music group Woptic.  Barton and Nancy’s solution to needing to be two places at once? Call in their clones!

If you have kids between the ages of 6 and 10, they’ll love these books. If you don’t, take a brief respite from the adult world you strive in. Act like a kid, read some children’s fiction and imagine letting your clones do the work for a while. You will of course have to clean up their mess later.