Welcome to the Winners’ Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating published author Chris McCloskey!
What are the names of your books? Who is the publisher?
The Adventures of Tooten and Ter: A Nose for Crime
The Adventures of Tooten and Ter: A Nose for Trouble
Publisher: OnStage Publishing
Give us a short summary of your book.
A Nose for Crime followed by A Nose for Trouble chronicle the detective adventures of thirteen-year-old Terrance O’Connell and his partner, service-dog-in-training, Tooten. Ter is a street-wise kid and Tooten is simply wise. They share the characteristics of curiosity, fearlessness, and loyalty as they snoop their way into solving the scams of a gold robber, a fraudulent Elvis impersonator, a pot-shards’ thief, and a gambling ring, among others.
Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published book.
I am an English teacher, so I have written articles for different purposes for decades. I started writing fiction for my kids. In one case, my ten-year-old daughter started waving to a dug-out spot in a hill on our way to school. She called him Dent, and he became a character in a hundred-page book I bound and gave to her. Later, while my husband and I were raising Guide Dog puppies for the Blind, I noticed that the pups and my middle-grade students shared many characteristics. The Tooten and Ter series took off from there. It got published in my first set of manuscripts to be sent out.
How long have you been writing?
What’s your favorite genre to write and why?
Middle school fiction. I like middle-schoolers. They are surprisingly aware, funny, snarky, and honest. I like how they walk, how they talk, and the things left unsaid.
What ICL courses have your taken?
How has taking our course helped your writing and/or career?
In every way. I was guided in my choice of topics, my audience identification, my character development, the holes in my plots, descriptions, or character details—down to the grammar, word choice, slang, and dialogue. I looked forward to the return of each assignment.
Have any of your class assignments been published?
The Adventures of Tooten and Ter: A Nose for Crime was sent out as one of ten manuscripts to various publishers as my final assignment for “Writing and Selling Children’s Books.” It was the only one to in that batch to be chosen by one of the publishers.
Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?
Dialogue. My characters reveal themselves to me through their speaking, either with other characters or in the form of thoughts. Often, I see how characters may develop in terms of trust or conflict as they communicate.
If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?
I’d go back to my early fiction writing days and collaborate with a writing group, enter contests, and review other author’s work. It took me too long to realize that my favorite part of reading and writing is analyzing it.
Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL.
The first critical review I got came as a slap in the face, but I soon learned that the more honest, both positively and negatively the response was, the more useful it was for me.
Are you excited about life after publication?
Of course, that is the goal, but don’t lose sight of the joy of the creative process. Keep writing!
Chris McCloskey writes stories—stories to help her students understand, stories to teach and entertain her kids and grandkids, and stories for herself to illustrate the values of her life.