Books for Kids

Friday, July 06, 2012

Carol Interviews Author Paula Shene

What inspired you to write?

Writing full time occurred in 2008 when my illustrator son faced a breakup of his marriage. My granddaughter developed nightmares with the uncertainty in her and her baby brother’s life. Mandy, she knew. Mandy did not have a good beginning and she too, had to learn to overcome. The story was written about Mandy for Samantha in an effort to help Samantha overcome her fears.

We are also into animal rescue, so 10% of our proceeds on this series, The Chronicles of the K-9 Boys and Girls on Locus Street, goes to animal rescue.

We sought publication for Mandy The Alpha Dog only after friends and relatives said ‘give it a try.’ In 2008, either there were not the resources for self publication there is now, or I was not aware enough of the market.

Finding self publication was prohibitive price-wise, I continued to seek a publisher even though reading about breaking into the ‘conventional’ print world is daunting.
Publish America  while in its early days had accepted all and sundry obtaining a bad rep, had also overcome as it went into its tenth year. After my initial asking for a ‘reading’ and including a synopsis, I waited; they insisted on reading one fourth of the story, I waited; then they requested all text in the story, I waited; followed by a request to see the pictures for the story which is written for the ‘smart aleck’ ages of seven through twelve’ ~ an attitude I seem to have kept. I waited. After weeks of ‘will they, won’t they?,’ we were accepted and then went into months of production. Mandy hit the waves in June of 2009. It is harder to break into the market for children than it is for the adult audience, and that is difficult.

The Midnight Caper was to have been the next instalment in this series. It is written except for the final scene and having my illustrator slow down long enough to sketch his cartoons. In the meantime, I found myself following a fellow author into the BookRix site and I’ve written more stories in this series which I’m slowly in the process of updating and publishing for sale. The first story I put into a contest on BookRix won third place. It was the only children’s story, and I think would have done even better if my illustrator had darker pictures which we fixed after the announcement of the winner. The name of the story is Digging Bones:
But, I found I also like to write stories for the adults. A lot of my dark humor seems to follow me into that age, too.

Do you have anyone you show manuscripts to and get advice from or are you a loner doing it all yourself?

My husband was my slash and burn partner when I was writing a monthly column for a church newspaper in the Northwest. He would always yell out to me... “You can’t start a sentence with an ‘and’ or a ‘but!’ But, my column was the one sought out by the women and the men alike.

I’m the lady with the Orange Juice Stand … “We ran out of lemons but have the most thirst quenching Orange Juice this side of the Mississippi. May I offer you some?”

I wanted to be involved with the newly formed newspaper - maybe in layout, which I had done for a living; hard copy, not virtual - but never could make the meetings. I was called and offered the job no one wanted. I interviewed one woman a month, prayed, culled and produced a column. I found after writing thirty-six columns, I enjoyed writing, but the winds turned and I had need to return to my roots to bury my aunt who was much more to me. She had been a mother, a friend, and a mentor.

My husband is no longer able to read, proof, and critique because of dementia actually caused by a smack to his head in a near fatal accident. He was misdiagnosed, said to have Lewy Body Dementia, put on anti-depressants, thrown into a full blown case of Parkinson’s and then... we went through a year of detoxification hell. I wrote about that in Lewy vs Al 
and for the humorous look at it in the children’s section, There’s Something Strange. My son is interactive with the children’s stories and if I can make him laugh, I know I succeeded. Then I have my neighbourhood fan club who look for the new story or the kids on the site who also are reading the stories. I’m always amazed when I run into someone I do not know and am told, ‘You wrote that book about Mandy. Hey, I loved it.’

What genre do you normally write in? Also, is there a genre you've always wanted to write in, but don't feel you could pull it off?

Not really. I write articles. I can write romance. I try to enter the contests because they each are for a different genre. I work well with deadlines - usually screeching to the finish. I have a lot of plates spinning and am always willing to add one more. So I try not to use absolutes in anything.

The one thing I find though is I am more of a sprinter than a long distance runner. I fare so much better with the short story then with a novel.

Do you ever base your characters on people you know?

“Snort.” All the time. Not necessarily physical, but certainly attitudinal.

What advice would you give to someone who was just starting off in writing?

Don’t quit your day job BUT write, write, write. Don’t let the critics kill your writing soul. I wrote an article for Angie’s Diary on What Not To Do in a Conference Call Interview and this was my take on this question: know what you are capable of writing and make sure your words are the ones that you mean to use – do not rely on spell check – if you use the wrong there {they’re, their}, or to {too, two}, or any other homophone in writing, the literate reader will pick up on it even if you miss it. {This is especially crucial if you’re your own editor}. I would also add, intimately know your target audience and what they like to read.

Go to your local library and scan shelves, then go to the catalogue which is now more than likely computerized and check the prolificacy of authors – read their books, what works for that genre and become so familiar with your subject, your writing flows.

If you do not have a passion for writing or a passion for the subject, it is time to change your direction either into another genre or profession or another time.

I wrote here and there throughout the years but did not seriously think of writing for the general public until recently when I was forced into retirement due to illness. When my body refuses to work but my mind is curious and my fingers tingle to type, writing becomes a God send for sanity. That’s my passion keeping me on the keys.

Do your stories tend to have morals, or special messages, included within them?

I don’t know how to write without a message somewhere. I’m not sure any writer is able to keep their views from seeping into a story. One of the characters is going to reflect their views either good or bad.

I do try to know my subject especially if I writing for the children. I do not want to give misinformation and that is so easy to do if you’re just breezing along and not thinking where you’re going until you hit the tree dead on.

This question was posed by a fellow author and I loved it so I decided to throw it into the mix ~ Oh no! One of your characters has escaped. Luckily, I have caught them! I will interrogate them with the help of a lie detector. Welcome! Take a seat, make yourself comfortable. You will be returning to your book once this is over. What's your name, where are you from and what is your role in the book?

“Well, hello. Carol? I ain’t ever met anyone I didn’t like, and I can tell I’ll be likin’ you. You don’t need to get that old contraption out. I’m a New York Dalmatian by the name of shadow. Shadow Hugh Shene, and I ain’t into lying. I’m into gettin’ information, too. That’s why I hang with Grandma. She’s the one at the computer and, um... she’s the one that feeds us.

I am the alpha dog, really. Just don’t go tellin’ Mandy. I like to keep her happy but she’s gettin’ up there in age, and I’m just helpin’ her keep up. Speakin’ of which, I really need to get back to work. It sure was nice meetin’ you though, Carol. Hope to see you again. Bye for now.”

Tell us why we would enjoy reading your books?
My stories evoke strong feelings and some people like certain stories, yet not others. I do seem to have something for everyone. My children stories are well received by the kids and most adults, but again not all. But, I do know there is something I’ve written that will bring a smile to your face.
To find out more about Paula, check out her author page on Indie Author Network:

 Carol x


  1. Cool! You can always interview me if you want :)

  2. Hey Bethan, be happy to interview you.

    Carol x