Career Builder & Giveaway: Anna Myers

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Anna Myers says: The sixth child in a family of seven, I was born in west Texas. My oldest brother told me I was found in a tumbleweed. I knew he was teasing, but part of me wanted to believe the story.

“Our family moved back to Oklahoma when I was only six months old, and I grew up in central Oklahoma where I have lived all my life except for two years in New York State when I was a young woman.

“The summer before first grade, I dictated my first novel manuscript, ‘The Long Bearded Man,’ to one of my older sister. It was a commercial success because I charged each of my older siblings, including the one who wrote it down for me, a quarter each to read it.

“In school my favorites were history and English, and after college, I became a teacher of English. Even though I loved teaching, I could never give up that early desire to be a writer. My husband and I had three children during a span of four years. The prospect of sending them to college one after the other inspired me to get busy with writing. The first book did sell just in time for college.

“Cancer took my first husband in 1999. I am now married to a man with whom I went to high school. We live in an old house, filled with character and warm spirits, in the small town of Chandler, Oklahoma. I have seven grandchildren who bring me a great joy, and I am grateful to have work I love.”

How do you define success?

Red-Dirt Jessie with a jar of red dirt.

Success is telling the story that needs to be told and, oh, yes, I almost forgot, money.

I wouldn’t object to having money for lots of travel. I have not achieved the later, but I am still trying. Who knows, maybe this will be the year of the movie or the bestseller list.

Did you ever consider giving up? What happened? What kept you going?

I thought of giving up many times. During the seven years it took to sell my first novel, I gave up often, but only for about fifteen minutes.

I would start to cry.

My kids would say, “Oh, Mom, don’t give up. Someday you will sell a book.”

Then they would look at each other and roll their eyes as if to say, “Why doesn’t she just get real and clean up this house?”

My despair never lasted long. I wanted to write, and I knew I had to make enough money to educate the three children my late husband and I had very close together in age.

When I first began to write, I had two friends who also wrote novels. They never published anything. I did, simply because I wanted it more.

“In my first book, Red-Dirt Jessie, a character says about the dirt in central Oklahoma, ‘it is sure enough red here. Stubborn too. Won’t come out of nothing on wash day….I figure it makes us strong, seeps under our skin and makes us too blamed stubborn to give up when things turn rough.'”

Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you should have done differently? What and why?

I wish I had paid more attention to promotion. I found promotion difficult and foreign to my nature, so I ignored it. I wish I hadn’t.

Where do you want to go from here? What are your short- and long-term goals? Your strategies for achieving them?

A stained glass lamp made by Anna’s husband.

Right now I am writing my first adult novel, a project I have wanted to work on for a long time. I will always think writing for kids is more important and in some ways harder than writing for adults.

However, my book for adults is a story that pushes up from inside me and demands to be told. It is about three women teachers who form a garbage company to supplement their income. I need to write about the camaraderie of the teachers with whom I taught and about the death of a husband from a wife’s point of view. I will be finished with the manuscript in November.

In December I will begin the young adult ghost story that is now growing in my mind. Also, my agent is now marketing my first picture book.

My strategy is simple, sit in my chair and write.

Cynsational Notes

Anna Myers is the author of 19 novels, all published by Walker. Her debut was Red-Dirt Jessie (1992), and her latest release is The Grave Robber’s Secret (2011).

Her other books are: Time of the Witches (2009); Spy! (2008); Wart (2007); Confessions from the Principal’s Chair (2006); Assassin (2005); Hoggee (2004); Flying Blind (2003); Tulsa Burning (2002); Stolen by the Sea (2001); When the Bough Breaks (2000); Captain’s Command (1999); Ethan Between Us (1998); The Keeping Room (1997); Spotting the Leopard (1996); Fire in the Hills (1996); Graveyard Girl (1995); and Rosie’s Tiger (1994). See teacher resources.

The Career Builders series offers insights from children’s-YA authors who written and published books for about a decade or more. The focus includes their approach to both the craft of writing and navigating the ever-changing business
landscape of trade publishing.

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win one of two signed middle grade books by Anna Myers. Three total copies available. Author-sponsored. Eligibility: North America.

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Enter to win one of four signed YA books by Anna Myers. Nine total copies available. Author-sponsored. Eligibility: North America.

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8 thoughts on “Career Builder & Giveaway: Anna Myers

  1. I really admire those who put forth the effort to write and write and write and keep at it despite all the discouraging factors thrown at them.

  2. Great giveaways! I do a historical fiction research project with my tenth grade students. These titles are great to add to the selection in my classroom!

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