Three Questions with Robyn Hood Black

RHB Head Shot 2012 CREDIT  photo by Sandy FryI first met Robyn Hood Black virtually, when she contacted me via email after looking up my information through SCBWI. A poet, author, and artist, Robyn and her husband were considering moving to Beaufort, and she wanted to ask a fellow kidlit author some questions about the area. Thank goodness Robyn decided to make the move!!! She is a wonderful person, a great writer and she runs a business all writerly types will love: artsyletters.  I’m so excited to have Robyn with us today to answer questions about the businesses of writing and art. Her answers, and a bio detailing her published works follow, so keep on reading! 

1. Robyn, you are an artist, a poet, an author, and an entrepreneur. I recently visited you at your studio (one full of great old books, typewriter keys, and all sorts of things that make authors drool )and wondered how you came up with the idea of combining your love of the written word with the love of art. Can you tell us about that?

???????????????????????????????I’ve done some version of art and writing my entire life, and have never quite been able to choose between the two!  I’m probably a writer first, and I did finally pick an English major over art in college at Furman. (But I took a bunch of art classes as well.) I’d still love to illustrate my own text one of these days – working on that, in fact.  Even as a child, I had an entrepreneurial streak.  My sweet mother carted me around to gift shops, where I sold little pine bark sculptures with rocks painted as birds, with a shiny coating over all.  (I still love gloss!)

???????????????????????????????In 2012, with an empty nest looming on the horizon, I decided to launch my art business, artsyletters.  I’d done art shows and commissioned work in my 20s, but for this adventure I wanted more of a focus, and a trademark, too.  Who were my people in the world?  Writers!  And poets, teachers, librarians, and book lovers.  It seemed a natural venture to create things with a literary bent, and I find I have far more ideas than time to execute them.

red door collage arch macl 2 kami c (1)I like using books and words and letters as subject matter for drawings and prints, and I also relish using actual vintage texts to create mixed media pieces.  Somewhere along the line I went to the dark side and started altering old books and excerpts.   I enjoy bringing these physical, historical elements to life in a new form.  I might be working with a text published in the 1800s or the turn of the last century, and I always swim in questions – what was going on in the world when this was written or published?  Were we at war? Who might have read these words in their parlor or library or school?  Who might have touched this very cover or page through the years?

2. It sounds like every project is a result of your love of words! What has been the best thing about starting a business that caters to literary types?

wren on books with color kami c (1)The best thing has been that I tossed these things out into the universe, first at art shows and through my Etsy shop, and my “target market” caught them!  My first customer at a show was a professor at a small local college; she bought several bookmarks to give to members of that school’s first class of English majors.  At that same show, a young boy picked up my “Twas brillig…” bookmark and recited “Jabberwocky” by heart!

Those were fun exchanges, and several of my Poetry Friday friends have bought items, sometimes as gifts for each other.  They have been so incredibly supportive. (I personally think the Kidlitosphere is home to the most wonderful folks on the planet.)

XO on manual net c kami c (1)I’ve sold just about every altered-text mixed media piece I’ve made, and I look forward to making and offering a lot more of these in the new year.  It’s been humbling when an unexpected connection is made with these; a Rilke quote presented in a way that encouraged someone facing a challenge, for instance.  I’ve come to understand that these pieces, which I make with care and awe for the words that inspire them, will sooner or later resonate with someone because of his or her own story, and I love that.

 3. I know you love poetry, and some of your art even features found poetry. What is it about poetry that inspires you?

The Poet collage RHB kami c (1)How much time do we have? ;0)

I was one of those nerdy kids who loved poetry from – forever!  The older I get, the more I appreciate poetry’s ability to so efficiently and eloquently make connections – that’s really what poems do, isn’t it? Offer an image or phrase that makes you see/feel/think about something in a new way?  I primarily write poems for children, but a few years ago I fell under the spell of haiku, and I regularly submit to contemporary haiku journals.

My first poems published in a book for children were in Georgia Heard’s THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK (Roaring Brook, 2012).  I will forever be grateful for that open door to the world of found poetry.  It’s completely addictive (and something students enjoy trying).

When I make my “books as doors” collages, I include some kind of short found poem inside along with bits of vintage bling.  Last year, a dear friend bought one of the fairy door (miniature book) sized ones, which had a vintage fairy illustration and these altered words:  “I think your/wings are/strong enough/to carry/you.”  She sent it to a friend out West battling cancer.  That touched me deeply, and I’d like to create more of these kinds of works.

If you can't make it to Robyn's Beaufort studio, you can always visit her Etsy store.

If you can’t make it to Robyn’s Beaufort studio, you can always visit her Etsy store by clicking HERE.

For fun this month, I put together a few tiny ornaments in vintage oval frames with a wee print of my “Writer Mouse” image on one side and some “micro found poetry” (?) – just a few words highlighted in text, on the other.  The texts were from the late 1800s – I think the shortest was, “reindeer travel/upwards”…  Each of these sold on Etsy this past week; I have a couple of those tiny frames left and might conjure up new ones this weekend.  I have time, right?

Robyn in her studio.

Robyn in her studio.

Robyn Hood Black is a children’s author and poet living in coastal South Carolina. Her books include Sir Mike (Scholastic Library, 2005) and Wolves (Intervisual Books, 2008). Her poetry appears in The Poetry Friday Anthology , The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, and The Poetry Anthology for Science (compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, Pomelo Books, 2012, 2013 & 2014), in Georgia Heard’s anthology of found poems, The Arrow Finds Its Mark (Roaring Brook, 2012), and in leading haiku journals. One of her poems will appear in a board book compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins to be released from Abrams in 2015. Her fiction has appeared in Highlights and her poetry has been featured in Ladybug and Hopscotch. She enjoys encouraging young readers, writers, and artists through school visits and speaks to audiences of all ages. She’s been active in SCBWI forever. She also creates “art for your literary side” through her business, artsyletters.

You can find Robyn on her website:

Her blog:

Her Etsy store:

Thank you for joining us today Robyn!

Three Questions with Dr. Mira Reisberg

Smiling-MiraI met Mira Reisberg earlier this year when she invited me to teach at the writing school she founded, the Children’s Book Academy. It’s been my privilege since then to have already co-taught one course with her and I’m about to launch another course on May 19. Her official bio is below, but don’t let all the titles and accomplishments fool you — Mira is wonderfully warm, down to earth, and fun to be around. I’m happy to be welcoming her to Nerdy Chicks Rule today.

1. You call yourself a “creative adventurer” (which I love!). Where did you get your creativity and your sense of adventure?

As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, I was taught fairly early on that the things of greatest value are the things that can’t be taken away – creativity, heart and intelligence. My family was poor and we never had a vacation, but, we did have books and art supplies. We also had a mighty Oxford Dictionary, which I loved. In the anthology Just Like Me I wrote about my mum giving me art supplies and saying, “I can’t give you a beautiful world, but you can make one for yourself.” I am so grateful that we were empowered in this way. I learned early on that if I framed things in terms of creativity, I could pretty much do anything. So when I started playing around with computers in 1985, I looked at it as an art tool or a sophisticated etch-a-sketch and that took the fear away. I have drawn, painted, and written my way through some pretty tough times but now my personal art is pretty much all joy. This is such a touchstone question for me – creativity as a tool for transformation. I think creativity comes in so many different forms including things like decorating, cooking, gardening, etc. that are transferrable if you have the confidence or courage to try. I’ve taught tons of people to do thing they never thought they could do and to me that too is a form of creativity. Being a creative teacher is about demystifying things and putting them in a systematic sequential order that is also accessible, personally meaningful, and fun. Some of this I learned getting my PhD in education and cultural studies (focus on kid lit of course).

In terms of being an adventurer, to me that means keeping an open mind and being willing to walk through fear and the unknown. And while doing that in the creative world is natural to me, doing it in the physical world, apart from traveling, is a whole other ball game. Climbing things, riding horses, crossing logs etc. is terrifying. Fortunately as I get older and a bit more confident in my body, things like that are getting easier.

2. You’re a wearer of many (and I mean MANY) hats — artist, educator, professor, literary agent, literature advocate, founder of the Children’s Book Academy — an indubitable Renaissance Nerdy Chick, if you will! Can you give our readers some advice on balancing so many interests and roles?

Ha!! You are asking the wrong honorary nerdy chick about balance. Being a super creative and fairly driven head, heart, and hands person, my body has taken a bit of a beating from overwork. I suspect I’m hooked on serotonin from challenging myself so much. Recently I joined a gym and am working with a trainer. It’s a really culturally diverse gym with all ages and body types, which I love. I used to love Oscar Wildes quote, “Moderation in all things, especially moderation.” But now I’m looking for that elusive thing called balance. Let me know if anyone finds it.

3. What should Nerdy Chicks who want to become published authors do to find success? 

Success comes to people who work hard and study their craft, who are patient, passionate about what they do, willing to take risks, and persistent in revising and submitting their work. There are two skills that most writers need to be successful – one is storytelling- being able to write a good story with a great beginning, middle, and end and the other is being an exquisite writer who tells their story with perfectly fabulous writing. I’ve seen lots of great storytellers who have passages of exquisite writing but it’s overall choppy. The best writers are those who really know the craft of writing so that every word is pitch perfect. This is why Sudipta and I created From Storyteller to Exquisite Writer: The Pleasures and Craft of Poetic Technique – to answer that need. While we will be covering the storytelling elements as we walk students through writing their manuscript, the heart of the course is exquisite writing, whether that be humorous writing, heartfelt writing, rhyming, non-rhyming, fiction, or non-fiction. I don’t know about Sudipta, but I’ve had tons of serotonin happening while developing this course. Perhaps because I’m so proud of it as a work of art in itself, and excited by the good that it’s going to do for those who take it.

Dr. Mira Reisberg is an award-winning children’s book illustrator, as well as a published writer, art director, editor, former professor and children’s book mentor with over 25 years of experience in the industry. Following the success of many of her Children’s Book Academy students, she founded Hummingbird Literary. You can find her at the Children’s Book Academy website or at the Hummingbird site (although she is not currently accepting unsolicited submissions). 

To find out about Mira and Sudipta’s ground-breaking course starting May 19th visit this site. This is the only time that Mira will be co-teaching this course with Sudipta and it should be outrageously fabulous and fun! And, please join Mira and Sudipta for a free webinar on poetic techniques in your writing!

Three Questions With Rebecca Petruck

I met wonderful Rebecca Petruck a few years ago at a novel writing retreat, and have been fortunate enough to cross paths with her several times since at writer events. I’m thrilled to share that Rebecca Petruckher debut novel, STEERING TOWARD NORMAL, forthcoming from Abrams in May, is already making a big splash as an American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce New Voices selection and a Spring 2014 Kids’ Indie Next List selection. Knowing Rebecca, this doesn’t surprise me at all. 

STEERING TOWARD NORMAL is the story of eighth grader Diggy Lawson and the year he attempts to compete with a calf in the Minnesota State Fair — the same year Diggy’s family life is turned upside down when a half-brother he didn’t know he had moves in with he and his father. You can read a more about it HERE! But first, check out Rebecca’s great answers to these three questions. Thanks for joining us today Rebecca!

1.      I always think the best books touch readers on an emotional level. How will readers connect with your main character, Diggy?

Diggy thinks he’s a tough guy but is all heart. Diggy’s mom left him as a baby in a very public way that has become part of the town lore, so her absence is always present for him. He pretends it doesn’t hurt, especially because he has a good situation with his dad, but it never leaves him. So when something happens that seems to threaten Diggy’s relationship with his dad, he’s not as prepared to deal with things as he thinks he is. Which, frankly, I think is pretty true for all of us.

What ends up helping Diggy most is something that hurts him, too. He raises and competes show steers. Competitors spend several hours a day every day with their animals, and the steers become like a beloved pet. But a steer is only and ever market beef. Every year, the steers, especially champion show steers, are sold to the packer and slaughtered. Why would kids do this year after year? Fall in love with an animal and care for it as a best friend, knowing it will be sold? What I heard from all the competitors I met over the years is that it is the cycle of life, and that they had a year to love the steers and give them a better life than what they would have had on a feed lot. Despite the pain—loading day is called the “Day of Tears” for a reason—the kids cherish the time they have with their animals.

 Approaching a situation like this year after year and learning how to cope with the heartbreak has prepared Diggy to cope with other difficult situations. He doesn’t realize it, of course, and there are times when he wants to give up, but raising steers has taught him how to keep his heart open, despite the inevitable pain, and that ends up being the gift he shares with and that saves his family.

2.      What’s something you like to do that might be considered a tiny bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? 

NerdyChicks_papercityscapeI love to work with paper. I’ve long collected beautiful paper, and I have drawers of pages ripped from National Geographic magazine. When a close friend died suddenly from cancer, I organized a project to fold 1,000 origami cranes, in the tradition inspired by Sadako Sasaki, and I folded most of them from the Nat Geo pages I had saved. I also love paper engineering and have tried my hand at learning basic paper construction. One year I folded book bursts for holiday gifts for everyone. And in playing with all the manuscript pages I recycle, I’ve been slowly building a cityscape from paper tubes [image included]. I’d really like to try book sculpting, too, and I aspire to own a piece by Su Blackwell one day.

I love art because to me it is another kind of storytelling, and the pieces I collect personally all have something to say. So I’m particularly thrilled and inspired by the blending of books, paper, and art. Because the paper art I enjoy also has a technical component (folding, cutting, building), when I tinker with paper and books it is like putting my brain on notice that both sides have to do their fair share of the work.

3.      You’ve been a cheerleader, but also love books and have participated in math competitions! Do any of your characters have nerdy sides?

I think the real question is, “Do any of your characters try to be ‘popular’?” All of my characters are geeks and nerds, even the ones who don’t think they are, just like me. I approached steering toward normalcheerleading with the same nerdy determination I approached Mathcounts, 4-H, and sticker collecting.

The thing about cheerleading was that I thought it would “legitimize” me in some way by proving to people I could be “cool.” What I learned, though, was that I was already cool. I had great friends and made more friends, not because I was a cheerleader but because I let them get to know me. I had been intimidated about talking to certain people because I had put them above me in my own mind, not because they had put me lower in theirs. 

It was a good thing to learn in eighth grade because by high school I was over it. Sure, there were people I was nervous about talking with—mostly very cute boys—and most of my friends were theater and choir geeks because theater and choir are AWESOME. But my best friend was a “guidette,” and I had friends from a variety of groups. Though the groups definitely existed, they just weren’t that important for a lot of us, and I think that is even truer for students I see today.

Those answers were so great that each one could have been its own separate blog post!  I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Steering Toward Normal. To find out more about Rebecca, visit her WEBSITE, particularly her Creativelings page where she maintains a haphazard list of things she finds interesting.

Some other things that interest her are:


Show Steers:

#30mdare—because it’s fun and all are welcome! (A Twitter writing challenge Rebecca started!)

Fair warning: If you follow Rebecca on Twitter or Facebook, you will find yourself sucked into the many interesting articles she posts! Thanks again Rebecca. We’re looking forward to seeing STEERING TOWARD NORMAL out in the world. 



Three Questions with Tameka Fryer Brown

1493016_10202452286851546_1492077939_nTameka Fryer Brown is the author of the recently released picture book, My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood (Viking, 2013). This beautiful, colorful book features Jamie, an artistic kid whose moods are reflected in the colors of his crayon box. She’s also an awesome mom. I know this because we have commiserated all fall over the college decisions our high school seniors have to make. Tameka has given me some great mom-to-mom advice, and if you keep reading, you’ll benefit from it too. Thanks for joining us today, Tameka!

1. I love your use of color in this book. What made you decide to make color so important to Jamie, your cold plummain character?

I have found that every character I create reflects me in some way. I love bright, vibrant hues—especially those of “rainbow” colors. I didn’t think about it while writing, but I realize that color is important to Jamie because it’s important to me.

From a craft perspective, I thought the vehicle of color would be an engaging, sensory-rich way to describe feelings.

2. What is your absolute favorite thing about creating relevant fiction?

Sharing my perspective and having it be heard—or read—by people I wouldn’t have the opportunity to communicate with otherwise. Creatively speaking, it doesn’t get much cooler than that.

3.       Having met you at conferences, I know you’re an amazing mom with amazing daughters. What tips do you have for moms working to raise children today?

Thank you so much, but I’m definitely more blessed than amazing. These are some things I’ve learned along the way, though:

  • Don’t be so hard on yourself. Moms aren’t perfect, nor are we supposed to be. We’re supposed to do the best we can every day, with a commitment to doing better as we learn better.
  • You’re not raising children…you’re raising adults. It’s important to keep that in mind when determining what acceptable behavior is and what it isn’t. If it won’t be “cute” as an adult, actively discourage it while they are children (and still impressionable).
  • Start giving your kids chores early! Not only will it make life easier for you, it will equip your children to be self-reliant and better able to balance life’s responsibilities later on. (I’m playing catch-up on this one.)
  • When you’re exhausted, skip the non-urgent stuff and rest. Dust bunnies don’t argue and dishes are very patient. (I’ve got this down to a science.)

As always, I love Tameka’s advice!  I too have failed on the chores front. Younger parents, heed this advice and save yourselves!

You can find out more about her by visiting her WEBSITE, checking out THE BROWN BOOKSHELF, visiting her FACEBOOK PAGE, or following this link: .



Three Questions with… Mary Zisk

maryziskWe are happy to add author, illustrator, and artist Mary Zisk as a contributing author for Nerdy Chicks Rule! We met Mary at a Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators conference in New Jersey, and were impressed with her interest in art and women’s issues. You might remember that Mary created a guest post for us a few months ago. If you missed it, you can check it out HERE. Mary, who is Design Director for Strategic Finance, adds her vast knowledge of art and design to the Nerdy Chick Coop. Mary will make her first post as a contributing author tomorrow. As a way of introducing her to you, we decided to feature her in our Three Questions series.  You can also find out more about her on our ABOUT page.

Now, here are Three Questions with Mary Zisk!

1. What is one aspect of your career as an art director that you do regularly, but that people wouldn’t think of as an art director’s job?  I’m often surprised that some people—like relatives or even coworkers—don’t understand what a magazine art director does. They know me as an artist so they think I illustrate all the covers and articles of the magazine. That’s art, right? In reality, I hire illustrators to do that. Each month, I read the cover story and feature articles, figure out what they are about (all aspects of corporate accounting—not easy for a nonaccountant), and then decide who is the best person to interpret that article visually. Then, I collaborate with that artist from sketches to final art. It’s about a two-week process. IMAcafe_small2

Recently, I was allowed to redecorate our company lunchroom and included a gallery wall with framed prints of the magazine’s illustrations. So much talent on one wall.

2.  On your website, you mention that you have traveled a lot during your career. Is there a favorite place you have been?  Without a doubt, Italy! I’m half Italian, and when I went there for the first time with my parents, I felt completely at home. I’ve had six visits there. One trip was a tour with other artists, sketching and painting. My sketchbooks from there are my greatest treasure. I also spent a month in Urbino in a painting program.

 3. You create beautiful watercolor paintings, but also lovely pen and ink illustrations. What drives your passion as an artist? Something inside me needs to always create and use my talent. I’ve felt lucky that, as an artist, I get to really see and experience deeply what’s in front of me. Having painted a piazza in Venice, I can look at that painting years later and remember the laughing waiters at a café throwing bread near me so that pigeons would annoy me.

With pen and ink illustrations, I’m looking to tell a story or make someone laugh. I love drawing lots of details and patterns, and pen and ink is the perfect medium for that. Go to my WEBSITE  and check out my interpretation of “Down the Rabbit Hole” for a conference assignment—definitely a heavy influence from Mad magazine.


Thanks Mary. We are so glad you are willing to share your talents with Nerdy Chicks Rule. 🙂

Three (+) Questions with Lori Marrero

marrero2Lori Marrero has spent her entire career in public education. When I met her, over twenty years ago, she was a high school English teacher and I was about to enter graduate school to get the MAT degree I needed in order to teach high school English also. We’ve been friends ever since. After getting her degree in administration and working as an assistant principal for a few years, Lori is now the principal of Muller Road Middle School. She came into this new school as its first principal, and has been helping shape the course the school will take. Her hard work was honored this year when she was named 2013 Educational Administrator of the Year by the Richland County Association of Educational Office Professionals. I recently had the pleasure of doing a school visit at Muller Road Middle in the amazing library there. When I saw what was going on at that school, I knew I had to get Lori’s input here at Nerdy Chicks Rule. Her answers to my three (+) questions,are insightful and enlightening! 

1.   You were chosen to be the first principal at the innovative new school, Muller Road Middle, where all textbooks are on iPads. What are the main benefits of this strategy?  This has been a very exciting journey for me and for our teachers!  Actually, we don’t use textbooks at all, not even digital ones.  We believe that we have entered into a time where knowledge is free, we just have to know how to access it and how to discern if it is good information or bad information.  So instead of being bound by textbooks (which are basically some publisher’s view of what is or isn’t important to know), we ask our students to ask questions and discover the answers using the resources available to them via the internet.  If students are to be successful in a fully digital world, then they have to be comfortable and smart about it.  It’s our job to make that happen

2.  What do you see as the biggest challenges faced by public education today?  I think public education as we have known it is facing extinction.  I know that seems a very dire prediction, but if we don’t create our own metamorphosis, then I fear we will become obsolete.  Charter schools and private schools recognize that education has to change and they’re willing to do that – whether that means online learning or specialized schools which speak to students interests and passions.  We’ve got to find a way to touch the lives of our students in ways that speak to them, whether through social networking or tapping into the things that motivate them to thirst for more.  We think project-based learning or problem-based learning is a good way to start.  We’ve got to design schools, classrooms, and most importantly, lessons to meet the future of these students.

3. What is the best thing we can do for our children to kindle a love for learning and to keep that flame burning?  Tap into their passions, ignite the spark, and give them room to explore.  We’ve got to be guides for how to learn – no longer can we be the “sage on the stage”.  There’s much too much we don’t know for us to continue to pretend to be the keymaster for knowledge. Design great schools, allow teachers to innovate and create classrooms and lessons that speak to the needs of their students, and get out of the way.  Honestly, we need to get legislators out of the business of education and put it back in the hands of our communities.

After reading that there is a huge disparity between the salaries earned by male and female principals, I couldn’t resist asking Lori one more question…

+1. For decades and decades, most principals were male, even though most teachers were female. That seems to be changing, but I read that there is still a disparity between the salaries of male and female administrators. Is there anything women who want to pursue careers in administration can do to increase their chances of obtaining equitable salaries?  I’m not aware of disparities in my district, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.  Most salary discrepancies I know of have to do with whether you are an elementary, middle, or high school principal.  The higher the level, the more the pay – but then you have more responsibilities and more after-school expectations.  Do I think it’s harder for women to break into administration?  Perhaps – I think sometimes men advance more quickly with less classroom experience, but overall my experience is that the pay differences have been minimal if they exist.  Women interested in pursuing administration should consider how they want to redesign education.  Start in their classroom and spread it.  I truly believe the next generation of leaders have to be those who are willing to lead through a time of great change.

Wow. So much food for thought. Thank you so much for joining us today, Lori. Muller Road Middle School has some very lucky students!

Three Questions With…T.S. Ferguson

teeess-54_600T.S. Ferguson is an Associate Editor with Harlequin TEEN, where he acquires and edits commercial fiction for teen girls across all genres, and has the privilege of working with authors such as Kady Cross and Amanda Sun. Prior to Harlequin, T.S. worked for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, where he worked with bestselling and award-winning authors such as Jennifer Brown, Cris Beam, Sherman Alexie, Sara Zarr, and Julie Anne Peters. When he’s not reading or feeding his addiction to karaoke, T.S. is working on a Young Adult novel of his very own.

Today, T.S. is answering Three Questions about Nerdy Chicks and Reading

1) What should today’s Nerdy Chick be reading?

That’s a tough question, since Nerdy Chicks cover such a wide spectrum of individuals with diverse interests. Obviously YA. The Nerdy Chick should be unafraid to read teen novels. They’re for everyone now.

For the Nerdy Girl who enjoys fantasy, the Graceling trilogy by Kristin Cashore is great, as is anything by Tamora Pierce (a classic YA fantasy author) or Cinda Williams Chima.

For those who like paranormal with an element of romance, my favorites are Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series and Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series.

And for the Nerdy Chick who enjoys a great contemporary, some of my favorites include Sarah Ockler, Jenny Han, and Siobhan Vivian.

And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some great Harlequin authors to you Nerdy Chicks. Steampunk fans should check out Kady Cross’s The Girl with the Steel Corset. If you love romance, check out Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. And if you love Julie Kagawa or Richelle Mead, you should look for Amanda Sun’s upcoming debut novel, Ink (July 2013), a paranormal adventure set in Japan and involving ancient Japanese mythology.

2) How can a Nerdy Chick make her writing stand out?

The things that stand out the most to me when I’m reading through my submissions is a unique voice and a plot that feels different. Be aware of the market and what’s already out there, don’t try to follow trends but rather focus on writing the best book you can write. Don’t be afraid of the revision process or afraid of other peoples’ edits, and even though I know it can be tough sometimes, don’t rush to submit your manuscript to editors and agents before it’s ready just because you can’t wait to be published. Writing that has been polished will always stand out over writing that needs work.

3) Who is a fictitious Nerdy Chick you admire and why?

Roald Dahl’s Matilda has always been a Nerdy Chick I loved and she is someone worth emulating. Not only is she incredibly smart, self-taught, and a lover of libraries, but she survives a neglectful and abusive home life and an abusive school environment, isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and the people she loves, and shows bravery in the face of danger. And she has telekinesis, which is pretty darn cool too.

Thank you, T.S., for your thoughtful answers! If you want to hear more of T.S.’s brilliant thoughts, follow him on Twitter: @TeeEss