Friday, December 10, 2010

Interview Friday with Agent & Author Marsha Casper Cook

Marsha Casper Cook is the author of six published books and 11 feature-length screenplays, a literary agent with 15 years of experience and the host of a radio talk show about the business of writing and entertainment, “A Good Story is a Good  Story,” on the Red River Radio network. She and her guests discuss writing and what’s new in the entertainment field. This year, she also began hosting another talk show “The Whole Truth”; on this show, she and her guests discuss day-to-day issues that affect family life. Marsha has also appeared as a guest on other network shows and will continue to make frequent visits to other shows.
Her published works include “Love Changes,” a romantic novel about a family in crisis, and “Sala, More Than a Survivor,” a non-fiction biography about surviving the Holocaust. She has also written three books for young children, including the short stories “Snack Attack” and “The Magical Leaping Lizard Potion” and the poetry collection “The Busy Bus.” She has just completed the fourth book in her children’s series. Marsha has also published a book version of her romantic-comedy screenplay, “It’s Never Too Late.”
 
Marsha’s other screenplays range from romantic comedies to crime thrillers to family dramas. Movie studios optioned her scripts “Grand Central Station” and “Romancing Gracie”, and the latter was named a finalist at the ASA, Houston and Chicago Film Festivals.
 
Wanting to help new writers reach their goals, Marsha founded the literary agency Marcus Bryan & Associates in 1996, and achieved signatory status from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) within two years. In that capacity, she has represented more than 100 screenwriters and authors, and has optioned books to movie production companies. Marsha has spoken about her work and the craft of writing to a wide range of audiences including bookstores, schools, museums and local cable and will continue to speak to the media.

VS: Marsha, it is so great to have you here today and I want to thank you for being my guest on The Writing Mama. You are a very busy woman with your own blog talk radio show “A Good Story Is A Good Story”, writing and also working with screen writers as an agent. How do you balance your writing life with your family life?

Marsha: I try to be there for my family and up until now, I always have been. I don’t have small children and it is easier when your kids grow up because you have more time and no car pools. That makes a difference.

VS: Yes, having older children does make a big difference. As much as I love my baby girl, I sometime think, “Why didn’t I just stop with my son or my first daughter. However, we are glad our baby girl is here. I just have to wait 5 more years to have more writing time. LOL. Okay, so we know you have been doing this for some time. How long have you been writing?  

Marsha: I have been writing for years but I feel my work is so much better now then it was before. I really do believe that you should keep writing because hopefully the skills for writing will improve and you will have a lot of happy days.

VS: I am always curious as to what inspired someone to start writing. Can you share with us what inspired you to write?

Marsha: Life and all the good things that can happen in a day and sometimes some of the days even if things don’t work out as planned I try to approach it as a positive learning experience. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.

VS: Life is full of inspiration. Okay, we know you don’t have little ones at home anymore, but you still have a lot going on. So what is a typical writing day like for you?

Marsha: Depending on the day, I try to work at my other job, which is marketing and being a Literary Agent. Sometimes I have so much to do I feel bad that my projects have to wait. Usually on those days, I work from home at night without interruptions.

VS: I understand that because of running Stories for Children Publishing. One thing I did learn as a buyer was…Work will always be there waiting for you the next day no matter how hard you try to clear off your desk. I think this is truer with the writing world. Now is your family supportive?

Marsha: They are now. At the beginning I ‘m not sure they understood just how important this was to me. When they realized how much I love what I do, they began to understand.

VS: I think it can be hard for family at first to understand. Especially if you don’t make anything or very little at the beginning. I think over time as you said families begin to understand it’s more about your love than the money anyway that draws you to writing. Okay, so what was the first thing you ever had published? 
Marsha: Sala, More Than A Survivor was my first published book and probably the most rewarding, because the entire book is non-fiction. The book is the true story of Sala Lewis, a Holocaust survivor. Sala is alive and well and does speaking engagement at the Holocaust Museum in Skokie IL.

VS: What a great first book to have published and as you said a rewarding story to tell, too. Now you are currently touring a few children’s book, but you also have a book you’re currently working, too. Can you share with us a little about your current book, No Clues, No Shoes?

Marsha: My next book is called No Clues No Shoes. Here is a blurb about it:

Addison, feeling lonely, has just moved into a new neighborhood when he meets Emelina. At first they have nothing in common and didn't see eye to eye on anything. Addison likes to read and write stories inside, Emelina likes to be outdoors, jogging, and skating, just about anything, that keeps her active. She likes healthy food and Addison has a sweet tooth. A few weeks after they meet they are surprised to find out that they both signed up for Jr. Detective School where they team up to solve their fist case. A classmates shoes have disappeared and with very little to go on Emelina and Addison try to find the shoes. A friendship develops between the two of them when they solve the first of many cases they will solve together. 

VS: Sounds like another wonderful children’s book. Can you share with us Marsha what you enjoy most about writing?

 Marsha: All through the writing process, I enjoy the creation of the plot and characters. It’s sometimes very hard to keep focus but when asked this question the entire process for me is fun. 

VS: Okay, now that you shared your favorite part of what writing, what is the most difficult part of writing?

Marsha: The most difficult part of writing is leaving your characters behind when you are finished with your book. The characters that you have created in your books are like family. When you have completed your book and are satisfied that all the loose ends are tied up your book is finished and unless you are writing a series or a sequel the characters must leaver your and allow new characters to enter your mind for your next project.

VS: So true. Marsha, what is the best writing advice you ever received?

Marsha: The best advice I have ever received was if you write a good story someone will want to read it. So for most of my writing career I have tried to write the best story I can and enjoy writing it. Working hard on stories to make them good is also very important advice. I used to rush to get my stories and screenplays finished but now I try to get to know my characters better.      

VS: Thank you for sharing this wonderful advice. Now Marsha, do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other jobs?

Marsha: Sometimes it is very difficult to find the time but I try my best to write every day even if when I finish I don’t really like it. When I don’t like it I try to do a better job the next day. I am very hard on myself but usually everything pulls together at the end and the story works out, and then I am very happy.

VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Marsha: Emelina and Addison’s First case as Private Detectives is the first of a series.

Addison, feeling lonely, has just moved into a new neighborhood when he meets Emelina. At first they have nothing in common and didn't see eye to eye on anything. Addison likes to read and write stories inside, Emelina likes to be outdoors, jogging, and skating, just about anything, that keeps her active. She likes healthy food and Addison has a sweet tooth. A few weeks after they meet they are surprised to find out that they both signed up for Jr. Detective School where they team up to solve their fist case. A classmates shoes have disappeared and with very little to go on Emelina and Addison try to find the shoes. A friendship develops between the two of them when they solve the first of many cases they will solve together. 

VS:  One last question Marsha before you go. The world of children’s book publishing is extremely competitive, with many authors hesitating between trying their luck with a traditional publisher or self publishing. What advice would you offer writers who are oscillating between these two publishing venues?

Marsha: I think you should try to traditionally publish if you feel that you won’t be satisfied until you do. However, if you feel like you want to start a writing career sooner self – publishing is the way to go.  I think finishing a project and getting it published is very exciting, providing you had an editor to edit your book.

VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama”?

Marsha: Keep writing and don’t give up. I feel the more you write the better your stories will become. Sometimes that’s hard for writers to accept, especially when they get rejection letters. Rejection letters for me were constant reminders that if I pursued my writing career I might get better, and I did.

VS: Marsha, I thank you for taking the time to share with my readers about being a writing mama.



 If you would like to know more about Marsha Casper Cook, she is part of the December 2010 World of Ink Tour. You can find more information about her, her children’s book and her tour stops at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/MarshaCasperCook.aspx.

Publisher Website: www.fidelipublishing.com

Book Places where Marsha Casper Cook's books are available:
 
Marsha’s next World of Ink Tour stop is December 13th at the Families Matter Blog where a book review of “The Busy Busy” will be posted. http://familiesmatter2us.blogspot.com

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