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I'm so pleased to welcome today's guest, Kath Boyd Marsh, who is my invaluable critique partner. Without her insight and encouragement, the Guardian Witch series might never have been published. So, thanks, Kath. You're the best!

Kath reads and writes paranormal fiction and is currently a finalist in a middle grade fiction contest. You'll soon have an opportunity to read her latest story and to vote on the contest winner, but for today, we're just going to chat.

Knowing I have a magic pot, Kath just asked for "pocket" coffee instead of her usual black and strong. What's that?

KATH: Pocket Coffee is a dark chocolate shell over concentrated coffee liquid - a candy. I fully blame author Patricia Winton for getting me hooked. And yes, you can buy it on Amazon. 

Ally: This is a coffee maker, not a candy maker!  Black and strong will have to do this time!

KATH: Coffee is coffee. Bring it on. :)

Ally: Now that's settled, let's move on to the BIO. Being Kath, she brought her own rendition of her writer photo to go with it. Lol.

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BIO:
I’m a fourth generation native born Californian who grew up a Marine Corps brat. Translated, that means I have no answer when someone asks where I’m from. Too many places. 
I have my BS (pun intended) from Florida State University in English Education. 
I have had a number of jobs: sous chef, dishwasher, cashier, busboy- helping my restaurant manager husband, office manager of a small company we owned for a short while, substitute teacher followed by assistant teacher when I let my unbridled sense of humor rule my mouth in front of a teacher who needed an assistant for a class of wild an wooly third graders, a wildlife rescue volunteer, the mother of Professor Daughter, and Wife of The Prince Consort. 

(Ally Note: She and her husband currently live in Kentucky in a wonderful suburban area surrounded by woods and wild creatures. Visit her blog, Letters from Earth, for some great photos!)

Ally: So, tell us something personal that will never be part of your official bio.

KATH: When my college sorority ran out of volunteers (yes, I was playing truant from the meeting.) I ended up their candidate for Homecoming Queen. (See photo for why this was a BAD idea from desperate people.) Hence the life long lesson of DO NOT MISS A MEETING. 


Ally: I'm almost afraid to ask, but did you win?

KATH: Sorry, I spit my coffee all over you. No. I did not. But I was Sweetheart for one of the local fraternities.

Ally: Let's move on to writing. How are the rules different for middle grade writing? 

KATH: Writing for adults and writing for children: two different animals. Take changing point of view character. Where it’s okay to change POV character on the page of an adult novel, it has to be carefully handled in children’s. If the POV character needs to change, there should be a separation by scene or chapter. 

There are a number of reading levels: from older Young Adult,  Young Adult, Tweens, Middle Grade, Chapter Books, Easy readers, to picture books. The complexity of the vocabulary and grammar descends from Young Adult. 
Amazingly from YA up, the kinds of risqué subject matter and language differ little from adult. 

The length for MG on up through older YA has traditionally been around 200 pages for a first novel. Chapter books on down are much shorter, and picture books are traditionally 32 pages. 

Biggest difference: the Main Character has to grow, change, by the end of the novel. It’s not enough to have a rollicking adventure. 

Ally:  Since I already know what a great critique partner you are, tell us what makes a good critique.

KATH: Well, aren’t you too nice for words. (Which I already knew.) For me the best critiquer is honest  and balanced. The writer needs to know where she’s done well, as well as where there could be a problem. And the big one: never tell the writer what words she should have written. The way I as the critiquer would write a sentence has nothing to do with anything. The writer’s voice has to be respected. If something is unclear, I say so. If I know this writer could do better than what’s currently on the page, I nag. 

Ally: Lol! She does, too. :) Let's try some Quick Answers Questions about your writing process:

      a. Which comes first - character or plot? Character!!! My head is full of weird characters. Which may be why my

          husband sleeps with a gun under the bed. ;) 
     
      b. outline or seat of the pants? Seat of the pants. But the ms. I’m working on now has benefitted from going back and

          doing a plot point outline. I think in future I will still use seat of the pants for first draft, then do that plot point 
          outline using Vogler’s Hero’s Journey, to get all the nuts in a row. 
   
      c. computer, ipad or pen? Yes. Including a special dragon pen! 
   
      d. with or without music? Instrumentals, except Toby Keith, and then we be rocking! 
  
      e. best in morning or evening: Best intentions are to write in the morning, but it seems like afternoons to evening

          work out better. 

Ally:  I'd love to hear more about your WIP and what you'll tackle next. 


KATH: My current project is a Middle Grade paranormal titled Pansy Pants & the Search for Magic.  I’m in the finals of a contest held by Children’s Brains are Yummy Publishing, with my fingers crossed for a contract. Pansy V. Pants wants to learn serious magic, the kind a High Demon is offering. Pansy learns a lot more than magic from the High Demon’s lieutenant, the pet dragon, and the ghost magician. She learns it just in time to face a terrible challenge. 

I’ve learned so much in the revisions of Pansy Pants, that I think I’ll go back and see what I can do for a favorite manuscript, Bumblespell Wizard and her River Dragon. 

Do you see the dragon theme here? 


Ally: No surprise to me. I suspect you'd have a pet dragon if you could find one! Thanks for visiting today. Good luck with the contest, and be sure to tell us when and where we can read your story!

Thanks for joining us, readers! You can check out Kath's blog here - Letters from Earth! See you next time!

 


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