Get to Know our Writer - Dodie Gregg

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Meet our Writer - Dodie Gregg

About 30 years ago, I went to my first SCBWI event. I think it was just SCBW then. Perhaps the most impactful thing I learned is that it takes a team to become a good writer. I have had amazing support from other writers. It helps me to persevere despite the onslaught of rejections.

The genres I write in are Picture Book and Middle Grade

My writing process includes asking other writers about their writing processes. I always assume everyone else has this whole writing life more figured out than I do. I can be a very effective procrastinator, especially when I’m having a difficult time figuring out what is going to happen next in a book. That being said, I like to start writing in the morning. Sometimes I walk first and talk to my characters along the way. They can be very good company. They often tell me what will happen next and how they will react to the situation I have put them in (or rather the situation they have told me to put them in). I love when this happens because it takes all of that frustrating guesswork out of the equation. To write, I sit on a coach with a laptop on my lap. I like to sit where I can see outside and have natural light coming in. I am very happy if I get a solid five pages written. At one time, I had loftier weekly goals, but for right now, I’m trying for a first draft chapter a week.

Most of my life I have been writing. I remember writing my first story in second grade, on huge lined second grade paper that was twice as wide as it was long and tinted brown; maybe it was recycled. I don’t think they use it any more. As an adult, I started writing stories by hand after my first daughter was born. I wrote them for her at first. Then I got a computer for my 30th birthday. I had a cheat sheet that told me all the commands to use to indent, copy, paste, etc. I even had a PB story accepted by Bantam, Doubleday, Dell. I spoke to the editor and was beyond elated. Not even a week later, she called me back and told me they were dropping my book because they were merging with Trumpet Books. Last manuscript in, first manuscript to be dropped. I was so discouraged. I went back to school to get my teaching credential. The great thing about that was I loved it and I was able to take a zillion writing classes. I taught writing and I wrote little stories along the way, but I didn’t have the same energy for it. Working full time and raising three kids was what I could handle. Then, nearly three years ago, my husband died. I had retired early from teaching to help him out after his cancer diagnosis and I had a lot of free time on my hands. I was desperate for something to do. There was no longer a single excuse not to write. So, I’ve written two PB’s, two MG novels and I’m working on a third MG novel now.

My writing education is varied. I was an English Lit major at Occidental College. I was trained to be a trainer in Write From the Beginning as a teacher which has really helped me both as a teacher and as a writer. I also took extension classes at PCC, UCLA and USC. I do not have a dedicated writing space. I like writing on a comfy couch, particularly like when my labradoodle, Moose, joins me.

My dream book was the one I wrote that had a character like my brother, Dave. He has always inspired me and I want other people to know him and love him too. He was born with cerebral palsy and with intellectual disabilities. Yet he was able to accomplish so much. He finished high school. He worked at the Post Office. They flew him to Washington DC to honor him as the Postal Worker of the year and put his name in the Congressional Record. He led with a smile and used his misshapen legs to pedal his bike all over town. I wish I could get My Name is Davey published because even though it isn’t his story, it was inspired by him.

A current project is a MG book that is a companion book to another MG novel, Ella Bella French Fry. It is about Rosey, Ella’s little sister, three years later. She is a fun character, not one I was ready to let go of. She has only recently started to take over. I need her to do more of that because the first draft is taking a while. I wish I was an illustrator but I am not. 

The best tip I can give to writers starting out is to join a critique group. Listen and don’t argue with what people say about your writing. If you disagree, fine. Keep what helps and throw out the rest. After all, you are the writer of your own book. However, don’t be surprised when you get tips from your group that take your writing to a new level. Plus, writing is lonely. You need other writers to keep you going.

Although I do not currently have an agent or a published book, I have won First Place at the Fall Harvest Conference two times. In 2022, it was for my PB Papa G Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and in 2023 it was for my MG book Ella Bella French Fry. If it weren’t for So Cal SCBWI and our critique groups, I might have given up by now.

Some interesting facts about me: When I was newly married, many many moons ago, my husband and I went to Puerto Vallarta. The first thing we did after throwing out suitcases in the hotel room was run out on the sand to parasail. We waved down the first boat we saw. I went first. I was hooked in with a parasail behind me. Up, up I went. It was thrilling. I could see for miles as the ocean stretched beneath me. The driver landed me on the sand perfectly. I watched as my husband had the same experience. That night, over margaritas, a fellow traveler informed him of the two accidents that had happened the day before. One person landed in a palm tree and another landed on the hotel roof. There were no regulations in Mexico at that time. Needless to say, all’s well that ends well, but I have never done it again. I am the youngest of seven children, but my parents were not Catholic or Mormon. (That is what I am often asked). My favorite foods are chocolate, sushi and vegetables…in that order.

I do not have a website yet. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Linked In. I think I have a twitter account from when I was teaching. I don’t do anything related to writing on any social media sites. I mostly look at pictures of my kids and their kids.

Facebook, Instagram, and Linked In: @dodiegreg