Welcome Winona Rasheed, author of Spring, Where Are You? and 8 other children and YA books!
Describe your writing process?
My writing process always begins in my little kitchen, with a writing tablet and a cup of coffee, regardless if I’m preparing content for my blog, newsletter or children’s books. My kitchen for some reason is where my thought process begins when forming ideas to write about. My yellow tablet is my draft sheet that I work on before heading to my keyboard. It is on this tablet that I handwrite everything, it’s where the story content is laid out, where characters are born, titles appear and dialogue comes into play. However, the process doesn’t always happen in this order. Sometimes, research has to be done when you write on a certain topic that is new to you, as with the case of “Wohali and the Little People” to get into the heart of the storyline. With this book, I had to do research on the background of the Cherokee Indian and their beliefs. In doing so, the research added more drama, depth and insight for the fiction story while still in its draft form. The draft is full of edits, red marks and cross-outs. When I am satisfied with the draft, that’s when I take it to my keyboard, where I am ready to type and create a manuscript that also gets tweaked, because you might find that you have to lengthen or shorten a story, or you may find that you have to elaborate more on character description and plot development, as was the case with “Itchy Scratchy Spots.”
Where did you get your ideas from for your children’s books?
When it comes to creating as story, they say ideas are all around you, this is true. Images, conversations, situations, people, events, life experiences can bring about story ideas. For instance, “A New Home for Her Cubs” was inspired because of a TV program I was watching, Animal Planet
“Broken Voices” was inspired because of my sister-in-law’s physical impairment and “Itchy Scratchy Spots” came into being as I thought about my own children coming down with the chicken pox all at once, one right after the other.“Spring, Where are You?” was inspired from the simple fact that adult’s word expressions can be misunderstood and confusing to the mind of a six-year-old. Children and adults can relate to this kind of situation.
Who is your favorite character in any of your books?
My favorite characters, it is hard to choose a favorite because I love them all; after all, they are an expression of my own imagination. They seem real to me; from Wohali, Rudy, Ella Rose, Gracie to Kumani the lioness, they all are a part of me, my babies that I bought to life. When you watch a character develop from scratch, or from a planted seed in the head, they grow on you and you become one with each individual character. However, I think Kumani of “A New Home for her Cubs” would say she’s the favorite because after all, she is a lioness with humanistic traits, which is out of the ordinary and this makes her unique, plus her friend Bantu is one of a kind too.
Tell us about your latest book release?
My latest book release is “Spring, Where are You?” I am very proud of this children’s book
because it is self-published and I did it my way. I love doing things on my own and by myself, even though it was difficult. But the entire process put me, the author in charge of the publishing process. Spring, Where are you? Is a short story that depicts the dilemma a young girl goes through when she misunderstands the expressions of adults as they relate to the coming of spring. In this story, Gracie sets out to find spring; she wants to come face to face with it since it is suppose to be right around the corner. Gracie is full of questions and she expects for spring to give her the answers she is looking for.
Have you ever wanted to write a novel?
I have never wanted to write a novel. I am a short story writer, the process of writing a short story is long enough for me to tackle. If I were to write a novel, it would take way too long and I think I would lose interest because of how much time you would have to take to get a novel finish. You have to have patience to work on a novel. I like it when I can write something that takes no longer than month to complete as far as the draft is concerned. That’s my deadline for getting a short story worked out. I say deadline because of my work schedule which includes; housewife, housework, homemaker, freelance writer, blogger, cook and babysitter. Creative writing is my passion and it is incorporated throughout my daily activities of being productive. When it comes to writing short stories, I sometimes do it with my jammies on and staying up until the wee hours of the morning, working on my craft, especially when inspiration strikes.
How did you become a children’s author?
I have always written short stories, but they were intended for young adults and older and for school projects. In school, my teachers loved my short stories, which I wrote for extra credit in certain classes. But, that’s as far as my writing went. It didn’t get off the ground until I took a writing course from The Institute of Children’s Literature, writing for children and young adults. That’s where I found my passion and where I learned how to write, create and submit my work. This was about 15 years ago or longer. As I found out through the writing course, when I wrote all those years before, I was guessing at what I was doing. But my instructors let me know that I did have a future in this field, I just needed to learn how to proceed with it. That was the best thing that I could have ever done when it comes to pursing my passion in writing. It opened a lot more doors than what I ever expected.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
My advice to aspiring writers is to follow your dreams, your heart and your passion. Write something every day, even if it’s just one sentence. Find something else to write about when and if you find yourself suffering from writer’s block when you are working on a particular project. Don’t waste time, give up or doubt yourself when writing is a sincere passion. Think positive and surround yourself in inspiration that will inspire and motivate when you find yourself in a writing slump. If I can do it, I know you can too.
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