Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Interview with Award-winning author Renee Hand

Wow, it's been a crazy few months around SFC and my writing office. I've been lucky enough to meet some really great authors and illustrators with World of Ink Tours. Not only because I get to read some wonderful books or learn about them from Q&A's sent via email, but also because I've had the chance to chat with them on my Blog Talk Radio show, Stories for Children each month.

Today, I'm excited to share an interview with Award-winning author Renee Hand. She's not only an award-winning author, but also an educator, tennis coach along with various other things. Renee has been writing for over twenty years and has six publications. She also writes for various chronicles and newsletters, as well as reviews for various authors of children´s books on her blog,

Renee Hand's love for reading and writing started when she was a child. Renee always had a passion for it and remembers frequently wearing out the stone steps to the local library. When in a bookstore, she would sit in the middle of an aisle perusing a novel that she was eagerly going to purchase, but couldn’t wait to read. Often, when Renee has extra time, she will write stories that pop into her head...locking herself in her room for hours. Now that Renee is older, her love for reading and writing has not diminished. In fact, it has only become a bigger part of her. It is because of this that Renee chose to share her interests with other readers who love books as much as she does.

I want to thank you Renee for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. I know trying to fit everything in can be challenging. What do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life? 

I always find time for myself, which is usually in the morning before my day begins and the kids are up.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for over 25 years and have been a published author for 7 years. I also have 2 years of experience writing book reviews and articles.

Renee, what would you say inspired you to write?

I have been writing since I was in 5th grade, around there. Writing for me started as expressing my feelings of things that were going on in my life. Then they turned into stories with my characters feeling the way that I did. It evolved from there.

I get asked this question a lot. Most the time I would say yes, but there are times the answer is no. I'm wondering is your family supportive of your writing?

My family has been very supportive throughout my writing career. Now that my children are older, they will even come with me to some of my author events to help me sell my books and keep me company. My oldest especially.

There is nothing like your first publication. I think as writers we never forget it. What was the first thing you ever had published?

A poem when I was in middle school. It was put into an anthology.

Renee, you're currently working on a few new projects. Can you share with us a little about your current books?

I have two amazing, interactive and educational mystery series. The first is my Crypto-Caper Series. In these books the reader needs to solve the cases my solving cryptograms and puzzles. The reader is involved in each story and is a part of the team. The books are either history or science based, and though the stories are fiction, I do incorporate some fact.

The Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Adventure Series are about animal detectives. In this series children will learn about animal tracks, as well as rocks and minerals. My new release is book 2 in the Joe-Joe Nut Series called Mineral Mischief. I add in quite a bit of interesting and factual information that will educate and entertain the reader. It also can be used to supplement the topic of rocks and minerals in a classroom. Each book has tons of information about the topic and about the suspects. All books are written in a fun way.

We all have things we love and hate about writing. What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy the fact that I can create a story out of nothing and have it inspire a child in some way, making it memorable.

I know it can be hard for me to balance my editing jobs with my personal writing time. Do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other jobs?

It can be difficult but if it’s important to you, you will always find time for it. I always find time to write when I want to do it.

Renee, do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

I am currently working on book 5 of my Crypto-Capers Series, The Peacock Diaries, which will be coming out in the Fall. In this story the Crypto-Capers are going to England in search of a missing inventor who leaves them clues about the true identity of the Panther, who is the main villain in the series. Many obstacles are thrown in their path, and a truth is revealed that will haunt them all.

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?

I would recommend going with a traditional publisher, big or small, hands down. My publisher is a small press, I am not self published. My publisher treats me well, and not only supports my work, but me as a writer, which is important to me. Have patience with the process. If your writing has been rejected from a publisher, figure out what you need to do to make it better. No work is perfect. Rework it and rework it and try it again. Think of a rejection as a push for you to try harder.

So my advice is this. Think about why you wrote, or are writing, the story in the first place. Ask yourself who is it for and what is your goal for this story? What is your goal as a writer? There are benefits to self publishing but see if they out way the benefits to traditional publishing. Self publishers have many uphill battles to deal with from the get go, can you overcome these hurdles? It takes time to build up a reputation for yourself and your books. Some books have a slow start but will eventually do well. Some do good right out the gate and some don’t go anywhere. Do your research and go the way you feel will best benefit you and your work in the long term. Only the writer can decide what is best for themselves and their situations and personal goals.

How do you see the future of book publishing, both traditional, electronic, and print on demand?

I see it changing, but it will do so out of necessity. The truth is, new books will probably always be out there. It is just how they are available to the public. The publishing business is an ever changing business all the way from the publisher to the many bookstores out there, to the buyers. The book business is no different than any other business in the fact that you must be diverse to survive. If you hold all your eggs in one basket, you will go down quickly. Businesses must be diverse in what they offer to the public and what they can do. Pricing needs to be competitive, not ridiculous. Buyers can’t afford high priced books anymore; they need to be more reasonable. Pricing determines how buyers will buy the books, either from a bookstore or on-line. Publishers need to accommodate all markets and buyers preferences making books available in various different forms and ways, including e-books and POD books. As authors we will have to market our books and promote them more than maybe what some of us are used to doing, though I have always spent a lot of time and money on it regardless. More is expected from the author. Publishers are getting pickier and in that way making it harder to get published for writers. I could go on but the point is that we have to adapt and change to the business and do what we can to keep our books alive out there in a changing world or we will cease to exist.

As a homeschooling parent, what tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?

Work with your child. For them to see a parent following their dreams is already a good example. Have them submit their work to children magazines, enter contests, get into writing clubs, etc. Find opportunities for them to get their work out there to the world. Also work with your child by writing with them. Let them be involved with your writing process and see what works for them and make it a family thing. It will instill a love of writing because you are sharing that love with them.

You're characters are so life like and believable. What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?

In order for a character to be believable you must make the reader feel something about them. Good description is key, but it’s not enough. How many times have we read a book or watched a movie and have cried or laughed? We do so because we made a connection with the characters. We felt sympathy or empathy. We love or hate a character based off of how the writer makes us feel about them. When I create characters, this is what I do. My characters are never lifeless and boring. They are dynamic and evolve as the story continues. I put myself in their shoes and walk around. I think how I would feel if that happened to me and I share my feelings. That makes a character believable. There is more, of course, but the above is a good portion of it.

Now you're an award-winning author. Can you share what awards you've won?

I have received 4 awards for my books. I have received a National Literary Award, a Best Book Award, a Preferred Choice Award and a Seal of Excellence Award in storytelling.  

Renee, is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama”?

I love being an author and sharing my thoughts and adventures with the world, and I am so thankful for all the wonderful people in my life who have supported me over the years in varying capacities. Thank you for having me on Writing Mama! Also I have a giveaway going on. Below is all the information. 

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

Renee Hand is also offering a giveaway during her World of Ink Virtual Tour here is the information to enter and win!

Giveaway information:

Giveaway #1 is for those readers who comment on Renee’s blog stops during the tour. One comment per person, per blog, through the length of the tour. Giveaway #2 is for those who purchase a copy of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Adventures Case#2 Mineral Mischief, between its release date of April 1st, 2011 and July 1st, 2011. Proof of purchase must be submitted to Renee via email at If you prefer to mail or fax a copy of your proof of purchase, please contact Renee via email for that information. Additional rules and guidelines can be found at the end of this post.

GIVEAWAY #1 (for people who comment at every stop during the VBT)
An autographed copy of Case#2 Mineral Mischief
Earth Science Posters on identifying rocks and minerals
National Audubon Society Field Guide (800+ pages) of Rocks and Minerals
Retail value of Giveaway #1 is $60 (rounded to nearest dollar)
GIVEAWAY #2 (for those who purchase a copy of Case# 2 Mineral Mischief between April 1st, 2011 and June 1st, 2011)

An autographed copy of Case #1: The Great Pie Catastrophe
4 boxed sets of rock collections which include a box of each of: Igneous, Metamorphic, Sedimentary and Minerals. There are 12 specimens in each box. These learning sets are a great learning tool for kids to learn about various kinds of rocks and their properties.
Retail Value of Giveaway #2 is $100 (rounded to the nearest dollar)

Here are the rules and guidelines for these giveaways:
1) For Giveaway #1 you must leave a comment on the hosting blog with a working email address for the author to contact you if you win. Only the first comment with your working email address is used to determine eligibility (one comment, per blog).
2) You must be a member of author’s blog and website at and  (This goes for entering both giveaways).
3) You are eligible to win Giveaway #2 if you purchase a copy of Case#2 Mineral Mischief between April 1st, 2011 and July 1st, 2011 and provide the author with proof of purchase via email, mail, or fax prior to July 1st, 2011. Case#2 is available through, Amazon,, and at various bookstores big and small, and various places on-line including my website.
4) All giveaway winners will be selected using
5) Prizes will be shipped via USPS with appropriate insurance.
6) Author, blog hosts, and tour group are not responsible for lost or damaged goods.
7)  The same person cannot win both giveaways.
Good luck to all who enter!

You can also learn more about Renee Hand, follow her virtual tour, read a book blurb of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Case #2 and view the book trailers at her World of Ink Tour Page located at

Renee's next World of Ink stop is
April 21st
Health, Beauty, Children and Family Review

BTR's World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children
Listen to Renee Hand's interview on demand at


  1. Thank you so much for the interview. I greatly appreciate it. If anyone has any questions or comments, I would love to hear them.
    Thanks everyone!

  2. I'm excited to have you here today Renee. You're books are amazing and so full of information and fun.

    Those stopping by, please leave a comment so we know you did. Even it you only say, "Hi."