Author Interview: Melissa Gijsbers #ChaBooCha

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Today we get to chat with another Chapter Book Challenge Author – Melissa Gijsbers. Another Aussie too, let’s hear what she has to say about writing…
When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?

When I was in high school, I found that writing was something I loved to do, and I was good at it. At the time, I was told that wasn’t a career option and went another way for a while. A few years ago, I rediscovered writing fiction and my dream was rekindled. The biggest impact has been trying to fit writing in around work, kids, and life. I now carry a notebook with me to write down ideas as they come and spend as much of my spare time as possible writing.

It certainly is difficult to fit it all in….

Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it:
I’m currently working on a chapter book that was written during the 2013 Chapter Book Challenge. It’s a story about a girl who just wants to fit in at a new school and is bullied. This is what she does about it. It’s a mix of my experiences and those of my now 10 year old son. The idea came to me when my son had an incident where he was being bullied and fought back by hitting the bully. He was punished and the bully wasn’t. He thought it was unfair. I used this as inspiration for the story and I’m sure it will resonate with kids.

We’ve all been there, I can’t wait to see you get this book published.

What are your future aspirations as an author?
To write books that will be enjoyed by readers – both children and adults. So far, I’ve had eight stories published in three anthologies, and I’m hoping these are the first of many published works.

I’m sure it will be the start of something big.
Where do your ideas come from? What experiences or aspects of your life influence your writing?
My ideas come from all sorts of places. Some are based on my experiences as a child, some on my kids and the things they do. Others come from writing prompts or things that I’m interested in. Still others seem to come from nowhere! I’ve learned to never ignore an idea, no matter how weird it may be, and I have notebooks full of ideas for future stories.

Gotta love those notebooks.

What do you do to improve yourself and a writer?

I write as often as I can. I take part in challenges and writing exercises to help improve my writing and develop some of the stories that are in my ideas books. I am also collecting and reading a number of craft books as I would love to attend writing conferences, however it’s not practical right now.

There is only so much time in a day and too many other things that need to get done.

What inspires you to write?
With my kids books, a lot of my inspiration come from my kids and the sorts of stories I wish were around for them to read, or that I wish had been around when I was a kid.

Kids are the best inspiration (oh and dogs – sorry Stitch and Chewie!)

Where can people contact you?
My blog is and my Facebook page is

Wonderful blog – you should all check it out!

What works best for you when writing? Meaning do you outline or write freely when you feel inspired to do so?
I find that having a firm outline doesn’t work for me as I stress over it too much and then get worried if or when the story goes off course. I prefer having a rough outline, knowing how the story starts and where I want the story to end up, and write so the story will get there.

Excellent to have some flexibility when planning a story.

Thanks for joining us Melissa, we look forward to hearing more from you in the future. Remember everyone keep reading, keep writing!


Author Interview: Becky Fyfe #chaboocha


Today we get to chat with author Becky Fyfe. Becky does an amazing amount of writing, editing and everything else in her life. She’s a superstar and the founder of the Chapter Book Challenge:
Here’s what Becky had to say:


When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?
I have wanted to be a writer ever since I was a child, but somewhere along the way, I lost the confidence to continue along that path. I managed to get my BA degree in English Literature and an AA degree in Child Development, but I stopped writing creatively for many years. Instead I concentrated on raising my children (all seven of them).

Slowly over time, I gained a lot of weight. I was clinically described as morbidly obese. That may not seem to have anything to do with my writing, but when I started actively trying to lose the excess weight and become healthier, I decided to begin blogging about the journey on a blog called Skinny Dreaming. I was very successful with my weight loss, losing more than half my body weight and reaching a healthy BMI. This also increased my confidence in myself by showing me that I could achieve what some considered impossible if I was just willing to put in the hard work towards it.

Through Skinny Dreaming, I was contacted by a start-up parenting magazine out in California that wanted me to be a regular writer for their monthly magazine on the topic of raising healthy children. I continued to write for the magazine for over a year. This added another cog in my self-confidence, especially in regards to my writing. Between the blog and writing for the magazine, I came to the realization that I still very much wanted to be an author.

What an amazing journey – not to mention you did all that while raising seven children… The mind boggles!

Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it:

I have several projects on the go right now. I originally planned on writing the Skinny Dreaming book on health and fitness, but I have only managed to write the first few chapters and an outline for it. My true love is writing fiction, and I currently have one urban fantasy novel, one YA novelette (also urban fantasy), six picture books, a middle grade book and a chapter book in the editing stages.
The current works I am writing at the moment are one chapter book titled “The Day My Shadow Tried to Kill Me” and one non-fiction book called “The 28-Day Fitness Challenge” based on a challenge I am running on the Skinny Dreaming blog.
“The Day My Shadow Tried to Kill Me” came to me while I was busy writing an adult novel for National Novel Writing Month last November. It took my attention away from my NaNoWriMo novel, but I loved the idea so much that I couldn’t stop myself from sitting down to write it. It’s actually the first in a series. Here’s the brief synopsis (which is still a work-in-progress):

Gabby is just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life until one day, she isn’t. Magical things start happening around her, beginning with her shadow taking on a life of its own. Gabby would think this was cool, if it weren’t for the fact that her shadow was trying to kill her. Can Gabby stay alive long enough to figure out why these strange things are happening and how to stop her shadow?

Wow that list is actually longer than mine, can’t wait to see them all completed!

What are your future aspirations as an author?
I plan on publishing my novels someday, when they are ready. I haven’t decided yet whether I will self-publish them or go the traditional route, although I will have to go the traditional route for my picture books as I am not an illustrator.

I run my own Indie publishing company, Melusine Muse Press, that I have published some anthologies through, and I am hoping to expand the business model to begin bringing more authors’ works into the limelight, and I eventually hope to employ some illustrators.

Having some illustrators would be fantastic, they are hard to find.

Where do your ideas come from? What experiences or aspects of your life influence your writing?

Everything influences my writing and can bring me fresh ideas. My children are my biggest inspiration though. Aside from the ideas that come to me when I am with my children, ideas tend to come to me whenever it’s quiet. When I’m outside walking the dog or taking a relaxing bath, these are the moments when I have time to reflect and ideas will often light up in my mind. I also find that art and music have the tendency to inspire fresh ideas.

Quiet moments are the best – just where to collect them. I think we should bottle them up and send them around when required!

What do you do to improve yourself as a writer?
I read many books on the craft of writing. I read many books just for fun and enjoyment. I read blogs on the craft of writing. I write; I find that the more frequently I sit down to do some actual writing, the more my writing improves.

My biggest downfall is my tendency to procrastinate. To that end, I started hosting the Chapter Book Challenge (ChaBooCha) in March of 2012, with the goal of helping myself and others learn more about writing chapter books for children and to give us all that extra push to write the stories. The challenge is to write a complete first draft of a chapter book, middle grade book or YA novel from March 1st through March 31st. This March will be its third year running and the group has continued to grow.

I’m also hosting a new writing challenge in April this year, Blog Your Book in 30 Days. This challenge is mostly to get me working on my non-fiction book idea, but it will work for fiction books too. The challenge will give me the drive I need to write a chapter a day during April.
I am a member of the 12×12 picture book writing challenge, hosted by Julie Hedlund. The challenge keeps me writing a new picture book every month.

I find challenges very helpful in motivating me to stop procrastinating and to sit and write.

Yep that’s why I joined the Chapter Book Challenge – love to actually get something done.

What are the names of your books?

The anthologies that I have stories in, published by Melusine Muse Press, are “Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unique Fairy Tales,” “Jingle Bells: Tales of Holiday Spirit from Around the World” and “SuperHERo Tales: A Collection of Female Superhero Stories.” I also have a couple of doodle colouring books out called “Doodle Your Heart Out” and “Little Book of Doodles.” There are other anthologies with my stories in them as well: “Once Upon a Time: A Collection of Unexpected Fairy Tales,” “The Dark Fairy Queen’s Writerly Bridal Shower,” “Tales By the Tree: An Anthology of Holiday Flash Fiction” and “Charms: Volume 2.” The anthology “Keepsakes” will be out sometime later this year.

My girls love the Doodle Your Heart Out Book!

Where can people contact you?

I have several on-line blogs, but the main ones are Skinny Dreaming, Imagine! Create! Write!, Chapter Book Challenge, Rebecca Fyfe Writes, Fairy Magic Gifts and, now, Blog Your Book in 30 Days.

I also have a Facebook profile and several Facebook pages. (This is just a handful of them.)
Becky Fyfe
Skinny Dreaming
Imagine! Create! Write!
Chapter Book Challenge
Rebecca Fyfe, author
Fairy Magic Gifts
Blog Your Book in 30 Days

Do you read the reviews of your work and how do they affect your writing?

I try not to read reviews, but I would really like to get some more reviews posted for the anthologies.

What works best for you when writing? Meaning do you outline or write freely when you feel inspired to do so?

I write freely. I keep planning to outline, but, other than a general directional idea in my head, I usually write without one. The exception to this rule is for my non-fiction books. For non-fiction, I tend to write in my chapter headings ahead of time, which is a form of an outline.

Writing freely is great, just can be hard to come back to it later. If only I had the time to finish something in one hit.

For other authors who may be struggling what advice can you give on handling rejection?

My best advice is to never give up. Stop listening to that critical inner voice that we all have and continue to write. Every author has fears and doubts about their writing, even the ones who have already written best-sellers. If we all let our fears or doubts keep us from writing, then there would be no books and no new worlds of our creation for readers to lose themselves in.

Excellent advice. Thanks for joining us Becky. It was wonderful to get to know you more. So many more great interviews, reviews and news coming up here on Stitch Says. Keep reading, keep writing!

Author Interview: Jennifer Swanson #author


Today we get to chat with Jennifer Swanson who writes Children’s fiction and non fiction books.

Here’s what she had to say:

When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?
I started writing when I was in kindergarten. I used to write and illustrate my own stories and present them to the class. Many years later, I started writing again and it’s been wonderful. I really enjoy the creative outlet it provides and it’s just plain fun to see kids get excited about reading – especially when it’s a book that you wrote.

That is the best feeling in the world!

Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it:
When I’m not writing to a specific deadline, I like to write my own stuff. Right now I’m finishing up a MG novel. It’s contemporary, humorous about a girl who’s an inventor, well, she tries to be. It combines science and fun – two things I love.

Sounds interesting as an ex science teacher I am very keen to read that one!

What are your future aspirations as an author?
To keep writing and get some of my own fiction published. I’m working on finding just the right agent to help me with my career. I write so many different levels and genres, it’s not easy.

Not easy, but worth it in the long run.

Where do your ideas come from? What experiences or aspects of your life influence your writing?
I get ideas everywhere! I watch movies, I read books, I just walk around and some sentence or scene in real life will hit me and bam – I have another idea. My problem isn’t getting ideas, it’s finding the time to write them all.

Never enough time.

What do you do to improve yourself and a writer?
I try to keep up with Twitter and Facebook and all of the awesome writing contests that are going on continuously. I participate in several critique groups and also go to SCBWI conferences.

Where can people contact you?
You can find me at

What works best for you when writing? Meaning do you outline or write freely when you feel inspired to do so?
Well, I kind of do both. I usually do whatever grabs me at the moment. It depends on how the idea comes to me. Sometimes I see a scene very clearly in my head and I just have to write it down. I may not be sure where it’s going or how the rest of the story fits in, but that scene is important. Then, I may outline after that. But I don’t always stick to the outline. I have to write outlines for all of my nonfiction books first and I have the hardest time sticking to them, too – much to the dismay of my editors.  I guess I’m just a “go-with-the-flow” type writer.

It’s good to do a bit of both.

For other authors who may be struggling what advice can you on handling rejection?
Hang in there! This is a TOUGH business. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. Yes, there are those few lucky ones who seem to glide through it, but the majority of us are in the trenches, writing away – sometimes for years – before anything comes of it. If I could give everyone one piece of advice, I’d say to be open to anything. I know people who are trying to break in, but they put limits on what they will do. Like – I won’t do work-for-hire, I don’t want to write that topic, I only want to write picture books, etc. Limiting yourself can make your path to publishing much harder.

Excellent advice – thanks for joining us here on Stitch Says!

Thanks so much for having me. Happy Writing to all!

Jen is also part of the Chapter Book Challenge group – you can check out more information here:

Lots more exciting interviews, reviews and of course Chewie’s news posts coming your way, keep reading, keep writing!