Saturday, January 27, 2018

GUESTOPIA: MG Author Ramon Ballard

It’s Guestopia time! Please welcome...


Ramon Ballard was born in Salt Lake City, Utah a long, long time ago. It is said that age is just a number. However, he has a really big number. He found that he was invisible, soon after entering elementary school, and stayed invisible throughout high school.  He had the shy child's habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons. Invisibility has definite advantages, especially when combined with a vivid imagination. He created magical, fantasy worlds with magical inhabitants, which he told to my imaginary friends.

Time does not stand still. Fantasy worlds evolve into mundane, everyday life. As he grew older, his whimsical travels to far off places diminished and his invisibility slowly faded into visibility. Once he had children, he would tell them the stories that only his imaginary friends knew.

Years passed. One failed marriage became two. He found and married my one true love and began my happily ever after. Happiness has certain side effects, his creativity yearned to shine. The imaginary world refused to be silenced; they demanded to be heard.

He kept saying “one day he was going to write my stories down in a book” until his wife told him to shut up, quit talking about it and do it. That was ten years ago. Today he has written 6 books, with a dozen more started but unfinished. The rest is history. He wouldn’t change a thing.

Is this your first published book?

No, this was my first novel I ever wrote. However, it was the second book published.

What’s it called?

A Somewhat True Adventure of Sara Roberts

Which age group?

Totally Middle-Grade, although it has been loved by my adult beta-readers.

Is it a series or standalone?

A standalone with series possibility.

Are you an agented author?

Wow, where do I start. I had an agent, once upon a time, but she decided to head into the sunset.

Which publisher snapped up your book?


How involved have you been in the whole publishing process of your book?

I stalked throughout the whole publishing thing.

Do you have another job?

I retired in 2009 after 40 years as an engineer. I started writing fiction in 2007.

What created/what were you doing or watching when the first idea for this book sneaked up on you?

I was driving toward Branson, a touristy place near us, when I told my wife that I was going to write the best middle-grade book, to which she told me to stop talking about it and write the thing.

How long did you plot/plan until you started writing it?

I started writing poetry in 1970 and thought about writing middle grade when my children were young. So I suppose you could say, I played with the idea for over 25 years until I finally got it on pages.

Once you started, did the story flow naturally or did you have to step in and wrestle it into submission?

The writing flowed, kinda. Before I knew it I had a funny novel. The problem was it was a 109K middle-grade novel. I had no idea of the word count for such a novel.

How many drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?

I let my father read the first draft (yes 109K words)

Did you receive many, if any, rejections prior?

I got a million rejections. I was so dejected I thought about sending a great rejection with every query that the agent could just sign and send it back to me. Originally I started querying the 109k edition. I even got one agent that requested a full manuscript. I can only guess he didn’t know the word count for middle-grade novels either.

Roughly how many drafts did it take before you sent the manuscript off into the real world?

Like I said, I was clueless and sent it to the real world right after I finished the second draft.

How many drafts until it was published?

The finished draft was about 62K which changed from 109K to 72K, 62K 49K and finally 62K

Has the book changed dramatically since the first draft?

Some of the things I loved in my 109K got erased from the final draft, but it is essentially the same novel.

Are there any parts you’d like to change even now?

I don’t think about it. Once I published I was done. There is nothing to change once you’ve gotten to that point.

What part of writing do you find the easiest?

I love everything about writing except commas. I can’t stand them.

Do you push through writing barriers or walk away?

It would be nice if I were to say that I push through writing barriers, but I don’t. I also don’t exactly walk away from barriers. I stew.

How many projects do you have on the go at the same time?

I tried having multiple novels going at the same time. It didn’t end well. I learned one project at a time.

Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be learned?

I’ve been writing in one form or the other for so long. It’s hard to think about it. I was born with the ability, but it can also be learned,

How many future novels do you have planned?

At my age (70ish) I don’t know if I have another book in me. I still have 2 books complete that have no place to go but up.

Do you write other things, such as short stories, articles, blogs, etc?

I have a blog that I write in 2 or three times per year.

What’s the highlight of being published so far?

Having a shiny new novel staring at you.

Give me one writing tip that worked for you.

“Not all great books are published.”

And one that doesn't.

“You can do it.”

Can you give us a clue or secret about the next book?

It will either be about a young boy who is convinced by leprechauns to go on a dangerous quest. Or, a retelling of Cinderella.

What question have you always wanted to be asked but never have? What would the answer be?

Q: Why have so many novels been published that are worse than mine, and I can’t get a break?

A: “Not every great novel gets published.”

And that’s it! Thank you for joining us, Ramon, and we wish you all the best with this and all of your future books.

If you would like to grab a copy of Ramon’s book and learn more about him, these links should help.

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