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Elizabeth Woodrum

Author Spotlight: Elizabeth Woodrum

beth woodrum
Interview by Michelle Lynn

An Interview with Elizabeth Woodrum

Hi Elizabeth! Welcome to YAAR. First things first, can you tell me about your books.

I write a children’s mystery series called The Maisy Files. There are currently three books in the series. The main character is the fourth-grade detective, Maisy Sawyer. She is a bit unlike her peers because she enjoys old-fashioned mystery movies and envisions herself to be in a black and white world when solving her cases.

I’ve read all three of your books and can say honestly that you’ve written a fantastic crop of young characters. Who’s your favorite?

While I adore Maisy, her friend Veronica is my favorite. She is starting to want to help Maisy with some of her cases, but she’s not always very stealthy while she is working with Maisy. Plus, she and I share a deep love of chocolate.

Maisy is an absolutely adorable kid. Precocious and sweet all at the same time. Is she based on someone in real life?

I wouldn’t say that she is based on a particular person. But, I taught fourth-grade for a decade. I would say she’s a bit of a mixture of a variety of kids I’ve worked with over the years in terms of her personality.

So, you write mystery, but for the younger crowd. How do you balance the intrigue of this genre with the constraints of your demographic? Basically, it can’t be too scary, but it still has to be mysterious, right?

This is where I believe being a teacher has been very helpful. The stories can’t be too scary, but they have to grab kids’ attention. Most readers in my target audience respond just as well to the tension created by curiosity as they do by something scary. I write with my “teacher hat” on and make sure what I’m writing is something that I, as a teacher, would be comfortable reading aloud to a class. I’ve found that mini-cliffhangers seem to be the best approach to keeping kids turning pages.

The younger the reader, the more difficult it is to write a story that holds their interest. What made you want to tackle this challenge rather than an adult mystery series that would be able to follow a more standard formula?

Again, I think that teaching kids of this age for so long made me feel like this would actually be easier than writing for adult readers. I know this age of student very well. The experience I had teaching that age group gave me plenty of realistic scenarios that I can incorporate into my books to make them relatable.

Were there alternate endings that you considered?

I don’t believe I’ve ever had an alternate ending in mind. I usually start with a general outline of what will happen at the main points in the book. But, the specific details work themselves out in the writing process.

Are there other authors who’ve inspired you to write?

JK Rowling and Nicholas Sparks are my two favorite authors. They write very different genres, but I find that reading or rereading their work makes me what to get writing.

What age were you when you started writing?

I’ve enjoyed writing since I was in elementary school myself. I can’t say that I really remember a specific time when I started. I haven’t always sat down to write creatively, but writing has always come easily for me.

The dreaded writer’s block. It’s hard to avoid it. Have you experienced it?

I do. I find that it’s best to take some time off and toy with ideas for a while before trying to get back at it. I’ve had horrible results when I try to just push through it. I’ve ended up throwing everything out on more than one occasion.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I have a very broad outline. I know the main case Maisy will encounter and I know “whodunit.” I plan out a few main events along the way. But, overall, I do better when I just sit and write. I usually stay close to the main outline, but the minor details change a lot as I go.

When we write, our characters become our friends, our family because we spend so much time with them. Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

I do wish Maisy were real! I bet she’d be a real treat to have in class.

Here’s a fun one for you – If you were a super hero, what would your super power be?

I would be able to stop time. I never have enough to get everything I need to done!

If you could have any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

I like both British and Australian accents.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

I decide to self-publish. So, most of the challenges were just making sure I knew enough about the process to put out a good book that was worthwhile for people to read.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

I probably would have given myself more time to spread things out. After I finished the book, I set up my website, mailing list, Facebook page, Twitter, virtual book tours and many other things. It was all so crammed together that it was very stressful.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

I don’t have very many details yet, or even a working title. But, I believe it will deal with the theft of food from Maisy’s school cafeteria. I think this one may tug at the heartstrings a little more than the previous books.

Criticism is a very real and very hard part of being an author. How do you deal with it?

I go back and read really great reviews or view messages I’ve received from readers who enjoyed my work.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Take the time to learn how to write correctly. Then, take a creative writing course to learn how to best structure a longer writing piece. A lot of people have great ideas, but putting them together is the hardest part.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I don’t know that I’d call them strange. But, I do tend to write in my pajamas with a cup of hot chocolate.

And lastly, to all the YAAR readers and aspiring writers out there – how important do you think reading is to your writing?

I think reading is vital to writing. Reading great stories that catch my attention helps me be more creative. Also, the more I write, the more I am able to pick apart a story I’m reading and notice the way the author structured it. It helps me get ideas and it helps me identify strategies I don’t want to use, particularly if something I read has some sort of flaw that pulls me out of it as a reader.

Thanks for talking to us Elizabeth!

Don’t forget to check out the adorable Maisy Files series. You won’t regret it!

Praise for the Maisy Files:

“This is definitely a must read for the young reader you are trying to interest in the world of fiction. It’s written in a way that it never gets boring and it’s short enough to keep the interest of even the most reluctant reader.”

“I loved how Elizabeth Woodrum wrote this story. She made it clever and whimsical without being condescending.”

“Even though the book was short, as it was written for a younger age range, the characters were developed well, the plot was completely satisfied by the end of the story, and the mystery was well-constructed.”

The Reader’s Perspective

Vertical stack of eight straw hats in a variety of shapes, textures, colors, and sizes, trimmed with ribbons, feathers, and raffia. Isolated on white background, vertical format.

Written by 
Elizabeth Woodrum

I have considered myself to be an author since I independently published the first book in my children’s mystery series, The Maisy Files, in 2013.  But, I have been a teacher for thirteen years.  During that time, I’ve taught reading and writing skills to students of a variety of ages.

I’m also an avid reader.  I simply cannot be without a book.  But, I often find myself wearing a variety of hats while reading.  I have my regular reader hat, my teacher hat, and my author hat.  It’s not uncommon for me to be piled high with imaginary headwear.

There are some books that I am able to get swept away in and simply enjoy as a reader.  But, often, inspiration strikes and I have to pause to jot down some notes for a future story.  Sometimes, the educator in me jumps up and down and screams something along the lines of, “This would be great for teaching metaphors!” or “This is a great text for introducing plot structure!” I have to pause for her, too. She’s a little bossy.

Though it is a bit tedious to manage my unintentional interrupting of my own reading, I have come to appreciate the different perspectives I have when it comes to reading great literature. I think it helps me to fully immerse myself in a story and identify with the characters.  But, I think everyone has different hats to wear while reading.  Each of us brings something different to our interpretation of a story based on our experiences.   Before I became a teacher and an author, I still appreciated and enjoyed a character-driven story.  I still do.  But, now I recognize learning opportunities and have a deeper respect for a perfectly constructed conflict.

So, the bossy teacher in me would like to assign you all a task.  The next time you find a great book, purposefully pause and consider it with a perspective that is uniquely yours, one that doesn’t often make its way into your reading time.  You may find a deeper meaning or even a little levity.  Share your thoughts with another person.  Find a teachable opportunity and bring out your inner teacher.  In other words, identify your own reader hats and wear them proudly.

October – New Releases

by Patrick Hodges

Several great books to tell you about this month!

By a happy coincidence, all three books will be featured in a Facebook Launch Party, which will take place on October 17 between 4:00 and 6:00 pm PST.  If you would like to come by, please do! You could win prizes such as free e-book copies of any of these books!

Three Author Event!

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10/17 – Maisy and the Mystery Mansion by Elizabeth Woodrum

maisybook3-cover-final Super sleuths will be thrilled to know that everyone’s favorite fourth-grade detective is back with a double dose of mystery adventure! As Maisy participates in a mystery weekend event for junior detectives, she uncovers a real case.   Could a ghost be haunting Mystery Manor? Find out in the exciting third installment of The Maisy Files!

Genre: Middle Grade/Mystery

To go to Ms. Woodrum’s Amazon Author Page, click HERE

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10/17 – Unexpected Alpha (Aluna Series Book 1) by Bethany Wicker

Unexpected Alpha

Female Alphas are unheard of in werewolf society, and the Sapphire Pack is no different. So when Lena’s father dies, no one is more shocked than she to discover that his Alpha powers have transferred to her.But when the uber-sexy Kane enters the picture, Lena gets a lot more than she bargained for. She soon discovers that searching for answers is most difficult when the last person she can trust is the only one who has them.

Genre: YA/Paranormal

To pre-order the book on Amazon, click HERE

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10/18 – Xavier: Flight to Ambrosia by E.M. Cooper

X.2KindleCov

Xavier Jones and his friends are captured and returned to St Griswold College to the clutches of Ms Ratchet and her strange staff. At every turn, gargoyles, demons and the Darklaw are ramping up their sinister activities.  Following the advice of the messenger angel, Raphael and scribe, Nisroc the boys seek answers in the wilds of the magical Ambrosian Forest. Who can they trust in this bewildering landscape?

Genre: Middle Grade/Mystery

To order/borrow the book on Amazon, click HERE

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Also debuting this month:

10/6 – Adventures on the Breeze by Kristen Iten

Genre: Children’s/Picture Book

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10/15 – Catchpenny Part Four: Gold Mine by Sarah Wathen

Catchpenny

Have you ever wondered about that girl at the edge of the crowd? The one who has dark, bushy hair that hides her eyes while she’s reading, but tight shirts that don’t even try to hide the size of her breasts? She never comes to parties and she lives in a neighborhood where nice girls never venture. Everyone tries to ignore her…but there is something about her that’s impossible to ignore. Especially for the star quarterback, apparently. Because he just asked her to the Homecoming dance, after dumping the head cheerleader.

Catchpenny tells a story from the eyes of “that girl,” and Gold Mine is the conclusion of this serial novel. Does the outcast find her fairytale ending, or something else she didn’t even know she’d lost?

To visit the Amazon page for the first part of this series, click HERE

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