Home > Writing and Poetry > Friday’s Interview with Deb Hockenberry

Friday’s Interview with Deb Hockenberry

Good morning, everyone. Today we have with us Deb Hockenberry, writer and blogger.
Claudsy: Hello, Deb. You’ve been through the Institute for Children’s Literature and gone on to write stories for children’s magazines and work as a book reviewer. And, of course, you have your blog. Share with us when you began writing and what you hoped to accomplish with  it.                                                
Deb: I first got the writing bug when I was in elementary school. I wanted to write a school newsletter. They were going to be simple little items like ‘Sally fell in the mud & did she ever look funny!’ Things like that I saw on my way to school.I stayed in my room all evening typing up my ‘newsletter’ on a toy typewriter that actually worked! Remember them or am I dating myself? Ha-ha!

Anyway, one of these newsletters found its way to the principal’s office & she read me the riot act! …Actually, it put the fear of writing into me for a while. She never encouraged me at all. I’m so glad that teachers do encourage kids now.

…I would really love to write good, entertaining stories that will take kids’ minds off of the everyday things that are going on in today’s world.

Claudsy: It takes a dedicated reader to do reviews constantly. Just how many books do you normally read in a week, and what types of books do you review?

Deb: It varies on how much reading I get done because of health problems. I always am reading at least two books at one time, though. I review both adults and children’s books with few exceptions.

Claudsy: Which do you enjoy the most; writing articles on writing, reviewing, or reading what you’re going to review?

Deb: This is a tough one! I love writing both fiction and non-fiction but occasionally my writing has to be placed on the back burner. Sometimes, an author will request that their book review be done by a certain date. I don’t really mind this since I love to read and I review some very good books! …I guess I just love the whole business of writing equally!

Claudsy: I know this will sound like an odd question. I know I’m one of those odd ducks, but I’m curious. Honestly, I’ve never had the guts to ask anyone else. But when you were a kid reading for pleasure, did you stop occasionally and remark about the storyline, or question the actions/reasoning of the plot, notice SPAG errors, and the like?

Deb: I sure did! I don’t know if I commented aloud or to myself. It’s funny how those errors just jump out at you. I’ve always been curious about this question too. I’ve always wondered, “Is it just me?”

Claudsy: I’m proof that it isn’t just you. With all that reading, how much of your time can be devoted to writing, oh, say fiction stories or articles on writing and the like?

Deb: Well, it depends on my day since some of them are taken up by doctor appointments… I make a to-do list. First… is checking in on the critique group I run plus check my email. Then I’ll have breakfast. After that, I’ll work on a WIP, followed by a review or (I’ll) read. Somewhere in here I’ll stop for a meal or other demands.

Claudsy: You’re used to using a schedule, then. What do you dream of writing some day that will give you the greatest satisfaction?

Deb: Since I tend to write short, I’ve always focused on writing for magazines and ezines, but I’ve always dreamed of seeing a book of my short stories in the library. This is my goal! I would be happy seeing all of my stories listed in an ezine too! Not as happy as seeing them in the children’s section of the library, though.

Claudsy: Tell me, what was the last conference you went to and where was it? How much did you learn while you were there?

Deb: I just attended the annual Muse Online Writer’s Conference this past October. This was my second year, and I’m already registered to attend …next October! I’ve learned so much from that conference… I’ve learned how important a web presence is for any writer, either starting out or established, I’ve learned more about ‘showing, not telling,’ dialogue, writing good query/cover letters, how to write a good hook and the list goes on and on.
I feel that it’s our job as writers to constantly keep up on the changes in kids tastes, changes in the industry, and to further our own education.

Claudsy: What one piece of knowledge have you gained over the years that you would pass on as advice to a newbie in this game of words?

Deb: May I offer two pieces of information? #1 Never give up on the dream of writing no matter what anyone says.

#2 Either start a blog or a static website. I never realized how important this is until I started attending the Muse Online Writer’s Conferences. It’s never too soon to get yourself out there. When I attended ICL, it wasn’t common for computers to be in the home so this wasn’t taught.

I still consider myself a newbie since we, as writers, are constantly learning about the different trends in writing… and the constantly changing… industry.

Claudsy: If you could start over again as a young writer, what would you change about the journey that brought you here?

Deb: Well, …I wouldn’t cave in to peer pressure. I caved in high school when I had the chance to join the creative writing classes there. The thinking then was that “that’s where all the squares go.” I just didn’t want to be laughed at so I didn’t join that class. I truly regret that!

Claudsy: What are you working now that will tantalize readers?

Deb: I have three WIP’s …now that I hope readers will enjoy. Two of them are chapter books, one for young adults and one for middle grades. The young adult book will be a historical fiction and the middle grade will be a religious story. I also have a magazine story in the works.

Claudsy: I want to thank Deb for taking the time to be with us today. A busy schedule doesn’t always allow for such interruptions in an otherwise hectic day.

I believe she has given us all things to think about.


Short Personal Biography:

Deb Hockenberry and her feline friend, Sasha, reside in Central Pennsylvania. She has taken two courses from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Deb attended the Muse Online Writer’s Conference. She’s currently taking an online workshop in children’s writing from the C.B.I. Clubhouse. She is also a member of SCBWI. As an MS sufferer, Deb concentrates on projects close to her heart.

Her credits include a historical fiction ezine piece and a story about Pediatric MS, plus her hundreds of book reviews.

Check out Deb’s website at: http://thebumpyroadtopublishing.blogspot.com which is devoted to writing for children, and the occasional difficulties that arise. Her other site, called Deb’s Book Reviews, can be found at: http://debsbookreviews.blogspot.com.

Remember to voice your opinions on topics touched on in these interviews. Our visitors are  good sports about questions coming in about something they’ve said.

Tomorrow, as usual, I will take some aspect of this interview for a commentary. I hope all of you will stop by again to read and comment on it. But, if you can’t make it tomorrow, keep in mind that on our guest will be on Monday will be Linda Bryan Sabin, writer, educator, speaker and publisher.

Have a productive and creative week everyone and feel free to stop by any time to just say hello, and hopefully, learn something new.

A bientot,





















Categories: Writing and Poetry
  1. January 22, 2010 at 7:03 am

    Thanks for the interview, Claudsy. You did a great job!

  2. January 22, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Great interview. I love to read about cyber pals I’ve come to know. And, Deb, I’m so glad to see you understand the importance of having an online presence by either a website or blog.

    Kudos to both of you. Great job!

  3. January 22, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Great interview. Thanks for helping us get to know Deb.

    Deb, As a relatively new author, I really needed to hear you say NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAM.

  4. Susanne Drazic
    January 22, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Great interview Claudsy! Hi Deb. Thank you for all the great information you shared in this interview.

  5. January 22, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Debra, having three WIPs is fun for an author. I can relate. And if you have writer’s cramp for one story, you can move to one of the others and get things done.

    Stephen Tremp

    • Allyn Stotz
      January 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm

      Deb & Claudsy, Great job! I also needed to hear Deb say “never give up!” and also its nice to know I’m not the only writer out there who has 3 or more WIPs going all the time. I think it helps you from getting bored or frustrated. When you cant think of the words for one story, you can move on to another and before you know it, a different set of words comes to light. Then when you refer back to the previous story, it will feel fresh. See you on the Muse, Deb!

      • claudsy
        January 22, 2010 at 6:31 pm

        So glad you came and tasted the entre. I’m glad you enjoyed the restaurant.

  6. January 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Deb,

    So good to see a fellow PA writer doing a fantastic interview. :o) Such good interview questions, too, Claudette! Deb, you gave wise advice like a pro and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.


    • claudsy
      January 22, 2010 at 6:32 pm

      Beth, I didn’t know you’d come by. Thank you for that vote of confidence.

  7. January 22, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Great interview, Claudsy! 🙂 I’m glad I stopped by to read, even if I was a little late.

    • claudsy
      January 22, 2010 at 9:57 pm

      I’m so glad you came by, Kristi. I know you don’t have much time to peruse anymore. Knowing that makes the visit more special.

  8. January 22, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Deb has reviewed my book, but at my request, hasn’t posted it yet because I’m still waiting on a release date. Thanks, Deb! This was a great interview, and one, Deb, that I hope is just the beginning for you.

    • claudsy
      January 22, 2010 at 9:56 pm

      Feel free to drop by and mention it when the book is ready for release. I certainly wouldn’t mind.

  9. Ginny
    January 24, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Great advice from Deb! It’s never too late to go after your dream…keep living in the moment!

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