Fran Orenstein, Ed.D., award-winning author and poet, wrote her first poem at age eight and submitted a short story to a magazine at age twelve. Her published credits include a ‘tween mystery series, The Mystery Under Third Base and The Mystery of the Green Goblin, a fantasy series for ‘tweens, The Wizard of Balalac and The Gargoyles of Blackthorne, a ‘tween fiction novel dealing with childhood obesity, self-image, puberty, and bullying, Fat Girls From Outer Space, (Sleepytown Press), and two young adult historical romances, The Spice Merchant’s Daughter (Whiskey Creek Press), set in France and Prussia between 1685 and 1703 and The Calling of the Flute (Sleepytown Press) set in Lithuania in 1897.
Moving into literature for adults, prize-winning short stories and poetry have appeared in various anthologies. A book of poetry for adults is currently in the works for publication in spring 2012.
VS: I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today and was wondering how long have you been writing?
Fran: I have been writing since I was a young child. I wrote my first poem at eight and submitted a short story to a national magazine at 12.
VS: What inspired you to write?
Fran: My mother was a storyteller, and rather than reading books to me, she would change the stories or make up stories. I grew up in the library because my mother was an avid reader who would rather read than do anything else. You could say I was raised on the written and spoken word.
VS: Is your family supportive of your writing?
Fran: My family is very supportive. My teenage granddaughter and oldest grandson are my best fans. My younger son has been helpful with marketing ideas and interviewing techniques, and both my daughter-in-law and daughter, both experienced proof-readers have proofed and edited my books.
VS: What was the first thing you ever had published?
Fran: I worked on the high school newspaper and articles I wrote were the first thing published. Later I worked for a national career education magazine publishing company as an editor/writer, and wrote a number of articles on different careers, including an article, Careers in Economics, published in a textbook by The University of Michigan. My first novel was published in 2008, a ‘tween mystery, The Ghost Under Third Base, (out of print), now republished as The Mystery Under Third Base from Sleepytown Press
VS: Can you share with us a little about your current book, Gaia's Gift?
Fran: Gaia’s Gift is a contemporary novel for women about Rachel Wells who loses everything she loves in a boating accident off the southwest Florida coast. Filled with survivor’s guilt and despair she lives “a year of insanity” as she describes it and then retreats from the world with her cat. One stormy night Gaia sends her a gift from the sea, a child who gives her hope. Rachel keeps the child and lives the next twelve joyous years ignoring what she has done. That is, until the outside world intrudes and the love of a man she never thought she could have again threatens to destroy her world. Rachel learns that a gift from the gods is never free, for they exact payment.
VS: What do you enjoy most about writing?
Fran: I enjoy the creation of characters, the development of a plot, and an outlet to express myself. It is also the knowledge that somebody, somewhere will read the book or poem and get enjoyment from something I created.
VS: What is the most difficult part of writing?
Fran: Keeping up the momentum, because so many things intrude, like living your life, outside obligations, marketing current books, the telephone and email.
VS: What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?
Fran: Be patient and kind to yourself. Your children are temporarily in your lives until they grow up and leave the nest, so they are the first priority; don’t miss a minute. Write when they nap, if they are very young and write when they are in school, if they are older. You have to be willing to let things slide and not worry about an immaculate home, but you also need to cultivate the support of your significant other to accomplish this. Some parents get up at the crack of dawn before everyone else and get in an hour or two of writing, others are night people and work after everyone has gone to bed. Carry some method to record ideas and write, whether it’s a pad and pencil, a voice activated recorder, or an electronic device. There are many times you wait for appointments or wait to pick kids up from school or sports or band practice, and these are times you can be writing.
VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?
Fran: I love character driven books. You need a strong plot, but there are just so many variations on a theme, while people have so many different sides to them. Think of your favorite books, especially series written about the same character. The plot varies, but the character is really what brings you back book after book after book.
People are not flat silhouettes or portraits on canvas, they are multi-dimensional. They have personalities that differ with their circumstances; they are happy, sad, angry, loving, and so on. Characters have families, they live somewhere, they have friends, jobs, school, activities, hobbies; all this makes up a character. Set up your character(s) before you begin to write and write it all down on paper or a white board. It’s not chiseled in stone, so you can change things.
VS: Can you share a bit about the awards you have received for your writing?
Fran: I have won awards for poetry from the Florida AAUW and The Florida State Poets Association, as well as an award from the Florida AAUW for a short story.
Please visit me at Fran World, www.franorenstein.weebly.com to learn more about me and my writing.
The World of Ink Network has been touring award-winning author Fran Orenstein’s contemporary woman’s novel with paranormal overtones, Gaia’s Gift published by Word Castle throughout the month of May 2012. You can find out more about Fran Orenstein’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/6wspudw
To learn more about the World of Ink Network visit http://worldofinknetwork.com