Monday, April 6, 2009

Margot Finke visits Write What Inspires You! Today - April 6th

How cute is this book cover!? Love it!
Margot Finke is an Aussie who writes mid grade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. For many years she has lived in Oregon with her husband and family.

Gardening, travel, and reading fill in the cracks between writing. Her husband is very supportive, though not interested in children's books. Their three children are now grown and doing very well. 4 grandchildren are the delight of Margot’s life.
Early on, a great deal of writing help and mentoring came Margot’s way. Payback for this comes in the form of her Website, her Blog, and her Musings Column. As well as promoting her children’s books, all three offer lots of free advice and guidance for beginning writers. “I am always thrilled when a client of mine has one of their books accepted.”
Margot didn't begin serious writing until the day their youngest left for college. This late start drives her writing, and pushes her to work at it every day. Margot said, “I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs.”
“You are my Heroes!”
DMc: What inspires you to write?
MF: The simple fact that NOT writing is unthinkable: and if I didn’t write down the ideas that come to me in the dead of night, I would never sleep again! I have always written. My rhyming stories began way back when we first came to Oregon from Australia. A worked as a Teacher’s aid, and soon found myself answering questions about my accent, and telling the classes about the weird and wonderful animals Down-under. These stories came off the top of my head, and a teacher friend suggested I write them down. The rest is history.
Our two girls were avid readers, but our son was reluctant. I tried to write in ways that would hook his interest. Boys have macho tastes, and a love of the YUCK factor – a frog down some girl’s back will make a grade school boy’s day. I have never met a reluctant reader that couldn’t be hooked by the right story. Action, adventure and a fast pace, boy type dialogue, plus sniggly humor: these do the trick every time. I love finding words that paint an instant mental picture. One or two great words and the scene is set - you have HOOKED a boy’s interest.
DMc: What kind of obstacles or challenges have you experienced as a children's writer?
MF: Nothing that other writers have not come up against. I do need peace and quiet to write, hence the late start mentioned in my bio.
I do regret the fact that I missed some wonderful opportunities early on, when I begun writing. These were times when it was far easier than it is today to get a book published. The big publishing takeovers, and the consolidation of many small imprints, under one or two umbrellas, had not yet happened. Inexperienced, I sent off MS that were less than polished: though at the time I felt they were perfect. Oh, the ego of the beginning writer!
It is far harder now, to find a publisher, and several of my well polished mid grade manuscripts languish in a file. Like many others who write, at times I drop into a deep chasm of despair about this. However, after a deliciously decadent wallow. I kick myself in the pants, scour off the accumulated “wallow,” and send out a new bunch of queries. I must follow my own advice to countless writers – editors do not make house calls!
In the beginning, I was blessed with several wonderful and caring mentors. These kindly writers set me on the right writing path. I formed a critique group of my peers, and I learned almost as much from reading their manuscripts, as I did from their writing feedback on mine - not to mention their encouragement and support.
DMc: From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?
MF: This varies from book-to-book. Rhyming comes easily to me, so rhyming picture books are the easiest. They go down fast, yet the fine-tuning of the rhyme and meter takes many rest-and-reread time outs. Putting your writing aside for a week, or a month or more, depending on the length, is a great way to check for those small missjudgements and errors you miss when you work at it without a break. Try it. What jumps out at you, needing attention on that first re-read, will amaze you.
Several of my midgrade stories have been in the works, as they say, for several years. I won’t admit to exactly how many years, even if you waterboard me! And I always rework, tweak, and rethink my first chapters, especially the first pages, countless times. I am usually happy with the middle and the ending, but those first pages always haunt me. I guess because they can make or break your chances. If what I write in the first few pages does not resonate with an editor, then she won’t read on into the second chapter, where I am certain she will fall in love with my story and characters.
DMc: Have you ever been asked to change the title of any of your books?

Never! But hey, I’m willing to negotiate if it means a sale!!
DMc: Are any of the characters in the books based on real people?
MF: You mean apart from the animals in my picture books? GRIN! Actually, in “The Revenge of Thelma Hill,” an MG ghost story that is one of my favorites, the character of the ghost is based on my Mum. She was the most caring and honest person I ever knew. Yet she expected you to own up and pay for your mistakes (crimes). This is a spirit WITH spirit!
The ghost (Thelma Hill) wants her killer to pay for burying her in the basement. So, after a rocky beginning, she and Frannie, her human helper, bond together and have a warm relationship. Both bring to the other something that is deeply needed. If Mum were alive today, she would be so tickled to have her name grace the title. Now that’s a book I would dearly love to have published. School kids who have read it, loved it!! Sigh!
DMc: Please share with us your latest book.
MF: I have two new picture books coming out this year, both with G.A.P. (Guardian Angel Publishing)
The first is “Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind” - illustrator K.C. Snider. Ruthie doesn’t understand why her parents moved far from her family and friends. Ruthoe acts out, her moods becoming as big and ugly as a hippo’s fat behind. Then, something wonderful turns everything around. Told in rhyme, K.C’s illustrations bring out the meaning in every verse.

“Horatio Humble Beats the Big D” – illustrator Ellen GurakHoratio Humble is a smart boy with a big problem – he can’t read. When he opens a book, the letters in each word do back-flips. When Horatio hears the words “Special ED” he freaks out. His knows friends will think he’s dumb. But he is in for a surprise. The Big D (dyslexia) can be tamed!
Thanks, Donna for interviewing me, and for the great bunch of questions you asked. They had me thinking hard!

Visit Margot Finke at:
Website: Blog: Musings Column: Critique Service: Series:


  1. Thank you both for a great interview!

  2. Thanks for filling us in on Margot!

    L. Diane Wolfe

  3. Donna and Margot,

    Thanks for a wonderful interview! Donna--I don't know how you keep up with all these interviews!

    Margot really does provide great help for the beginning writer. If you haven't checked out some of her self-editing tips, you should visit her website! Congrats on your work, Margot and thanks for giving back! :)

    All the best,

  4. Great interview. It was nice to hear that someone besides me allows stories to languish, ferment? in the files.

  5. Margot, reading your comments about wallowing in a decadent puddle of despair couldn't be more timely for me. How difficult the market truly is these days! Guess I should dust off my bottom and get on with the program.

    Once again, it's a delight to take a moment out to read your wise words. Thanks ever so much.

    And thank you as well, Donna!

    All best,

    Kimberly Michalski

  6. Donna

    What a great interview. Don't you love Margot's accent? I even hear it in the printed word.

    She has a lot of good advice. Beginning writers couldn't find a better source of useful information.


  7. Wonderful interview, Margot and Donna! :-)

  8. Margot is absolutely the best and I am glad to know her and to be part of the coaching club where she helps to mentor us along with Suzanne Lieurance. It is fun, helpful, and inspiring. Great interview. Thanks.


  9. Oh WOW, ladies!! Thank you all for your very kind words. I love helping other writers. Guess I must have been a teacher in an earlier life.

    Donna must take at least half the credit - she asked terrific questions. Please know that these first 8 comments have absolutely made my day - I'm flying!!

    Manuscript Critiques - Writing Help
    Rattlesnake Jam +7 Book PB Series
    "Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind"
    is . . . . C-O-M-I-N-G!

  10. A fantastic interview, Ladies!! I really enjoyed getting to know Margot better.

  11. Margot's one spunky dudette. Truly enjoyed the interview and enjoyed the questions posed.

    And I agree, Donna, a very cute cover.

  12. Hi..Margot it has been a pure delight hosting you today. So many positive comments...I'm thrilled for you.

    Visitors...the day isn't over yet, I still have Margot in the palm of my hands for the remainder of the day. So please go ahead and ask your questions.


  13. Lots of fun and good advice as well, Margot.
    Thanks for the enjoyable interview.

  14. What an adorable book cover.

    You are an inspiration, Margot. I know what you mean about starting wrtiing late. So did I. Trying to catch up now. Your books sound great. Thanks.

    And thank you, Donna, for another wonderful interview.


  15. I always love to come by "Write what Inspires You." Margot was difinity inspired for this one!


  16. Thanks everyone for all your kind words. It was a pleasure to work on this interview with Donna.

    Open invitation, mates:
    Come visit me any time, or e-mail me to chat -

    Margot Finke

  17. Great interview with Margot!
    Margot always has such good insights and good input for writers.
    Thanks for sharing!

  18. Great interview, Donna and Margot. the cover is adorable, Margot!

    Best of luck with the book releases.



Thank for you taking the time out to visit with me and to learn about my writing career.

Please be sure to leave your blog address so I can reciprocate.

I look forward to visiting you too.