Emma Right on Keeper of Reign & Empowering Young Adult Readers
Emma Right is a happy wife and homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast. Besides running a busy home, and looking after too many pets, she also enjoys reading aloud to her children and often has her nose in a book. Right was a copywriter for a major advertising agency during her B.C. years. B.C.meaning “Before Children,” which may as well have been in the B.C.era, as she always says. Please feel free to contact Emma. She’s always happy to hear from her readers.
Bianca Schulze: Keeper of Reign is the first book in an upcoming series for young adult and middle grade readers. Your goal for this book is to empower readers with the message of hope, but let’s get started by talking about what inspired you to begin writing this series.
Emma Right: One of the things that helped me to hone in on the theme for Keeper of Reign is the song from Switchfoot. When I first heard the song, “Meant to Live” (for so much more) it got me thinking about how far short each of us, and especially children in this “let’s play more computer games” age fall from our true potential. Also, the trials and troubles of this world reduce us, and it feels that our problem-filled world is so big—too big. This is just like how it was for the Elfies. And I am sure many kids feel this way during certain times of their lives. And it’s a shame because if they can see that they have been made for greatness, and don’t let their size bog them down, each person: boy/girl/man/woman, can reach his/her true potential and soar!
BS: As mentioned above, you want to empower readers with hope. What else do you feel readers will specifically take away from reading your book?
ER: Throughout Jules’s quest into the land of Handover–the enemies across Brooke Beginning—and as he searched for the truth and ways to save his family he faces one challenge after another, but as long as he keeps on looking for the Ancient Books no matter what, he will come through. But it was hard for him to keep this straight path, because many arrows come his way—difficulties, troubles that want to sway him from the straight path. Like him, I hope young readers will keep on keeping on, pressing toward the goal. Those who don’t succeed are usually those who give up too soon. So “Never, never, never, give up!”
BS: The genre of fantasy can offer a great escape to young readers and provide a safe place to explore new ideas. How easy or hard was it for you to create the new species of mythical characters that star in Keeper of Reign?
ER: It did take me some time to create the world of Reign. I used Pinterest to pin images I felt would help me build on the world. You can take a look here on my emma right Pinterest pages:
Actually when I was first finished Keeper of Reign I ended up with a novel of over 250,000 words—far too long for a children’s book. So I had to cut out a lot of the history, culture and traditions of the Elfies, and Keeper of Reign now stands at over 78,000 words. There are meanings and reasons behind the names of the characters and even of some of the places, like Brooke Beginning, and Handover. In some ways you could say, Keeper of Reign is also an allegorical fantasy. I hope to have more pages on the Reign world in my emmaright website in the future, for instance, the fact that the Elfies only ate natural things.
BS: You’re a homeschooling mother of five children. Did your children get involved in the story development at all?
ER: When I first began writing Keeper of Reign in 2008 it was just a tale—one of many, that I made up for my five kids. They wanted a fun, adventure story set in a fantastical setting; and, as a mom, I wanted the story to be more than just a fairy-tale. I wanted them to learn about the importance of loving each other—as they grated on each other a lot—and the importance of family, and the value of persevering and so on. So, later, when I arranged the scenes I wove these themes into the tale, at the time called Kingdom of Reign. So, yes, in a sense my five kids helped with the story development a lot. In fact, some of the character traits of Jules, Ralston, Bitha, Tst Tst and Tippy, mirror my five children’s.
BS: I imagine that creative writing may be one of your favorite subjects to teach. What advice can you offer to other parents who may have children that struggle in the creative writing department?
ER: Read, read, and read. And write a million words. Start a journal and encourage young readers to write down thoughts, passages of descriptions. And one great way to write better is to imitate the best. This was how the greatest artists did it throughout the centuries. They apprentice with the Masters and copy their style until teach leaner develops a style of his/her own. So young writers can do this in two ways:
- Get a classic, say, “Around the World in Eighty Days“, and write out /type out the passages—whole chapters maybe.
- 2. Get books written by great authors on how to craft stories, or develop plots, and read these craft books. Writing a novel is not the same as writing an essay. And since we can’t apprentice ourselves to a Hemmingway, or a Steinbeck, or a Laura Ingalls it doesn’t mean we cannot learn from them. Get their books on craft and also their novels and try to understand why their books have withstood the test of time.
BS: Moms all over the globe are always looking for ways to get more hours in a day. How do you manage your day and fit time in for writing?
ER: Being organized really helps. And I am a terribly disorganized person. But if I can do it … so could another mom with five kids or less. (I can’t attest for those with more than 5!) The first thing to getting organized is to find one day to write down the things that are important and the things that are urgent but not important. Eliminate things that waste your time. You can’t be all things to all people. Simplify your life. See where is the chunk of time you waste and be honest with yourself—taking time wasting activities out.
Take that one-day to audit your time. Then write a basic schedule of how you’d like to spend your day—things you’d like to achieve each day—Monday through Saturday—I leave Sunday for spontaneous things.
Also, I always double-up on things, for instance, if I have to make phone calls, my hands will be busy folding laundry, or cleaning the kitchen, or even cooking. While I am driving, I’m either thinking of a story, listening to a bible study, or using that time for “talking to the kids” I am driving places to. Just practical stuff like that.
As for meal preparations, I organize a day in advance. When I grocery shop (once a week) I make sure I get everything I need and know roughly the meals for the entire week. The trick is to lay your railway tracks, than everything will go smoothly.
Of course life throws us the curve ball—kids get sick, dentist appointments, new teacher schedules but these are exceptions and should not be the rule.
One more tip—don’t let things overwhelm you. Put things into tiny bites. For instance the thought of cleaning out your whole house may feel intimidating. Not to worry. Attack just a small section—clean out 1-2 drawers and then go on to another task. Do this each day and you’d have a clean and well-arranged house in a few weeks.
I hope this helps someone. Sorry for rambling.
BS: Do you have a favorite place you like to do your writing?
ER: I would really love to have a chalet overlooking the Swiss Alps, or even the Remarkable Mountain range where Peter Jackson used for the Lord of the Rings movie series would be amazing, but alas, reality sets in and I have to write whenever I have the time, wherever I may be. So, for now, you can see me pounding away on our Mac by the kitchen, so I can make a quick zip to the stove—I don’t want to end up burning the house while writing. Also, I write in the car—no, not while driving, of course. Although, I do imagine worlds and characters and plots while driving. So far I have never had an accident, or a driving ticket—so don’t worry, I am a careful driver. I have to wait around for the kids and this is a good time for me to have some quiet time to write my book. If I still have energy at midnight, I may get a few hundred words in, too.
BS: What would you say are the three most important things you have taken away from your experiences as a writer, thus far?
ER: I think writing a novel was the second hardest thing I’d had to do. The hardest is probably raising kids! I learned so much from writing Keeper of Reign. Writing in general is so different from creating a story and fleshing out characters and the world, and the conflict that can exist on so many levels. And don’t forget structure. When I first wrote Keeper of Reign, it never occurred to me that stories had architecture to them. Really? I thought architecture had to do with buildings? Several books from Writer’s Digest later, I had the Aha! moment and then I understood the need to have proper story engineering. All good stories have them. So, I had to re-revise Keeper of Reign—only about 17 times—and finally I was happy with the structure. Of course, having two editors helped me some, too.
BS: What should we expect to see from you next?
ER: I am currently editing Dead Dreams, a YA mystery thriller, and that should be ready October 2013. And I hope to have Keeper of Reign Book 2 out early 2014. So I’d be announcing that, too, in the newsletter. So, I hope you’ll visit my emmaright.com site and sign up for updates.
BS: As a parting note, is there anything you would like to share with your readers?
ER: I also have blog tours throughout this Month, so please check my blog to find out when these are and leave your comments on my blog posts—I have written many. And remember, to reign over life’s problems!
Please visit me: http://www.emmaright.com/Blog.aspx
For more information on Emma Right, visit: http://www.emmaright.com
Keeper of Reign can be purchased on www.Amazon.com
REVIEW COPIES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST: Contact Emma Right
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