Jewel Kats is an award-winning writer. She’s also one tough cookie. At the age of nine, Jewel endured a car accident. Her physical abilities altered forever. She spent weeks in the Hospital for Sick Children recovering, has survived eight leg surgeries, and currently walks with a cane. (Note: It’s fashionably handpainted!) Nothing stops Jewel. For six years, she penned a syndicated teen advice column for Scripps-Howard News Service and TorStar Syndication Services. Jewel has earned $20,000 in scholarships from Global Television Network and Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. She’s penned three children’s books, including: Reena’s Bollywood Dream, What Do You Use to Help Your Body? and her latest book Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair.
VS: Jewel, I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. So to start things off, what do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?
Jewel: I’m very, very close to my family now at this point in life. I have a wonderful fiancé, two younger sisters, a colorful brother-in-law, and a set of supportive parents. I communicate with most of them on almost a daily basis. I’ve often been teased about being both a “Mommy’s and Daddy’s girl!”
I keep my writing and family life balanced by including them in my creative process. I share illustrations with them. I talk about my characters. I reveal my dreams. I feel very blessed, and fortunate to have such loving people in my life.
VS: That 's great you are so close to your family and even include them in your creative writing process. I try and do that with my kids, but they would rather play video games or watch cartoons. Now Jewel, how long have you been writing?
Jewel: If only I could sit here, and tell you that I’ve been dreaming up stories since I was a newborn! Well, I didn’t. I can wish, right? LOL. I actually didn’t start writing until my 20s. I started off as a co-playwright, then worked as a journalist, and finally as an author. Yay for my journey!
VS: No worries there about starting your writing career in your 20's. I didn't start writing or even think about it until the birth of my second child. Funny how things work out. Okay, so we know you include your family in your writing, but how are they supportive of your writing?
Jewel: I’m the only black sheep (a.k.a. artist) in my family. I’m different in my form of dress, totally-out-there personality, and creative cap. Yet, they still love me. Phew! My mother was especially supportive when I told her that I wanted to write children’s books. She encouraged me to take courses at George Brown College in Toronto, and even went onto pay for them! Talk about a sweet deal. Go Mom!
VS: That's wonderful. If only everyone could have a mom like that. Can you share with us Jewel what was the first thing you ever had published?
Jewel: The first time I saw my words come to life was on stage. I helped write a touring musical about youth homelessness. I even starred in the show! Time-and-time again, I made audience members get emotional when I got into my character, Isabella. She’s a teen runaway who was sexually abused during her childhood. This show turned out to be my first leap into the artistic realm. I’ve never looked back ever since.
VS: What an impacting role and achievement at such a young age. What do you find to be the most difficult part of writing?
Jewel: If I’m really into one project, I find it hard to tuck it away in favor for another. I keep telling myself that I’ll just keep working on it for “ten more minutes.” Though, those golden ten minutes soon turn into hours!
VS: I have that same problem as well. What is the best writing advice you ever received?
Jewel: “Rejection is a part of the publishing game.” (Note: I can’t credit the person who told me this.)
VS: I couldn't agree more. I even wrote an article in my early years titled "Rejection is Part of the Game". I know you don't have children of your own but what tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?
Jewel: If you want to write children’s books and have kids of your own, consider yourself VERY lucky! You’re sitting on a goldmine of ideas. Use every chance you get to listen to and observe your little ones. How do they resolve problems? How do they behave around friends and/or siblings? Do they speak differently with adults? Also, be sure to take notes of their adventures.
VS: That's such great advice, Jewel. I know you do everything you can to be around children for inspriation as well, so what do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?
Jewel: A) Problem B) Build up C) Conflict D) Climax E) Resolution
VS: Taking all those things into account, what is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Jewel: Every character should be three-dimensional. They should have a history, present-day experiences and dreams for tomorrow. Moreover, they shouldn’t be “all good” or “all bad.” By adding a “flaw” to an otherwise “flawless” character, you add a whole new dynamic to your story. Remember, to also describe your character with your five senses and their five senses.
VS: It's really been great having you here, Jewel. Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama”?
Jewel: I really admire parents who have the desire to write children’s books. I believe they have special eyes for understanding a kid’s reactions. In general, most parents have also been exposed to much children’s literature. This not only keeps us in business, but it helps create the talented writers of tomorrow!!
You can find out more about Jewel Kats’ World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/JewelKats.aspx. There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Kats and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.
In addition, come listen to the November 7, 2011 Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork. The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth chatted with Jewel Kats about her books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Kats will also be sharing her writing background and experiences.